Introduction Increasing the proportion of children who engage in regular physical activity (PA) continues to be a public health priority. Many studies have reported a positive correlation between the PA levels of parents and their children, focusing on the direct modelling hypothesis (Sallis et al., 1988 – 1992; Godin et al., 1986). Other constructs, such as parental beliefs about PA and parental encouragement, emerge as important predictors (Dempsey et al., 1993; Brustad at al., 1996). The purpose of this study was to explore the association of parental PA levels, support, and beliefs with children PA levels, perceived support and enjoyment. Method A sample of 282 4th and 5th grade children (boys=137, girls=145) of two primary schools in the North-east of Italy and their two parents (N=564) participated in the research. Participants completed a battery of questionnaires that includes PAQ-C (Crocker et al., 1997) for children and Minnesota Leisure Time Physical Activity Questionnaires for parents (Lakkaet al., 1994) to assessed PA levels. PACES-it (Carraro, Young & Robazza, 2008) for enjoyment and parental support for PA was assessed using the scale described by Trost et al. (2003). Results Positive associations were found between children PA and children personal variables as enjoyment of PA, perceived parental support, and importance of practising sport (p<.01). In addition positive associations were found between children PA and parental correlates: father and mother support (p<.01) and mother belief of sport importance (p<.05). By an ANOVA analysis some determinants appear to be involved in children PA: father and mother PA (p<.05) and father PA in the past (p<.05). Discussion These findings further sustain the notion that parental support is a key element in shaping PA levels in elementary school-aged children. Health promotion interventions should reinforce the importance of parents role as well as supply safe and enjoyable opportunities for children to be active.
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