Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 19, Issue 11, pp 2348–2357 | Cite as

Maternal Correlates of Objectively Measured Physical Activity in Girls

  • Alyce T. Barnes
  • Ronald C. Plotnikoff
  • Clare E. Collins
  • Philip J. MorganEmail author



Given the low levels of physical activity in girls, improving our understanding of the factors associated with girls’ physical activity is important. In particular, exploring maternal correlates of girls’ physical activity for both generations is important, given the paucity of research in this area. The primary aim of this study was to assess maternal correlates of objectively-measured physical activity in girls.


A cross-sectional design was used to assess 40 girls [mean age 8.8 years; mean body mass index (BMI) z-score = 0.7] and their mothers (mean age 39.1 years; mean BMI = 27.6) prior to an intervention. Maternal correlates of daughters’ accelerometer-assessed physical activity were evaluated. Daughters’ outcomes included: % moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), counts per minute (CPM) and % sedentary behavior (SED), screen time (mother-proxy) and BMI z-score (objectively measured). Maternal correlates included demographic, anthropometric, behavioral, activity-related parenting practices, and physical activity cognitions. Correlates were examined using regression models.


For daughters’ % MVPA, mothers’ beliefs was significant in the final model (R2 = 0.14; P = 0.01). For daughters’ CPM, mothers’ logistic support (P = 0.03), mothers’ CPM (P = 0.02) and outcome expectations (P = 0.01) were all significant (R2 = 0.24). For daughters’ % SED, mothers’ logistic support (P = 0.02) was significant (R2 = 0.11).

Conclusions for Practice

A number of maternal behaviors, social–cognitive and parenting correlates were found to be significantly associated with daughters’ physical activity. Experimental studies are warranted, targeting mothers as the primary agents of change to increase physical activity among girls.


Parent–child relationship Mother Exercise Accelerometer Females 



RCP is supported by a Senior Research Fellowship Salary Award from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australia. CEC is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Career Development Fellowship, Australia. M.A.D.E 4 Life was funded by the 2011 Seed Funding Grants from the Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition, University of Newcastle. We would like to thank the participating mothers and daughters, student volunteers at assessment sessions; Kayla Lawson, Siobhan Handley, Jessica Dunn, Joanne Graham, Brianne McCabe, Katie Sylvester, Angela Humphrey, Amanda Williams, Myles Young, Sarah Costigan, and the University of Newcastle.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alyce T. Barnes
    • 1
  • Ronald C. Plotnikoff
    • 1
  • Clare E. Collins
    • 2
  • Philip J. Morgan
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Faculty of Education and Arts, Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of EducationUniversity of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of Health, Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Health SciencesUniversity of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia

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