Long-term dynamics in physical activity behaviour across the transition to parenthood
Gaining a deeper understanding of the dynamic relationships between the transition to parenthood and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) amongst men and women in Australia.
12 years of nationally representative panel data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey and a piecewise pre/post fixed-effect modelling strategy that controls for person-specific unobserved effects and allows for non-linear associations are used.
Both men and women decrease the frequency of MVPA in the years preceding the birth of their first child. An abrupt fall amongst men and a smooth, non-linear decreasing trend amongst women are apparent in the post-birth years. Neither men nor women recover their pre-birth MVPA frequency in subsequent years.
Parenthood is an important factor influencing MVPA, with more marked impacts on women’s than men’s behaviour. Policymakers interested in promoting MVPA should focus on parenthood as a critical deterring factor that can trigger long-term trends of low MVPA. The proposed model can be expanded to explore the influence on MVPA of other life-course transitions.
KeywordsModerate-to-vigorous physical activity Life-course transitions Parenthood Gender Health promotion Prospective analysis
We are thankful for useful comments and suggestions by two anonymous referees. This paper uses unit record data from the HILDA Survey. The HILDA Project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute). The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the authors and should not be attributed to either DSS or the Melbourne Institute.
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