What is sedentary behaviour? Parents' perceptions and key determinants of sedentary behaviour in young children

Ann-Marie Knowles, Alison Kirk, Adrienne Hughes

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Within the research literature, sedentary behavior and physical activity are now
acknowledged to be conceptually different yet the understanding of these differences within the public domain has not been examined. For young children, engaging in sedentary behaviors often occurs within the home environment where the family setting can determine the type and amount of sedentary behaviour that occurs. There is limited evidence examining sedentary behaviours within a family setting, specifically in young children, and qualitative studies are particularly absent. PURPOSE: To explore parents’ understanding of sedentary behavior, their perceived infl uence on their children’s sedentary behaviors at home and the key determinants of sedentary behavior within a family setting. METHODS: Nine parents (3M, 6F; mean age 36 years) of young children (age range: 4-11 years) participated in either face-to-face or telephone interviews which lasted between 9-23 minutes. Thematic analysis was used to identify overall themes related to the research questions and the researchers employed several methods of trustworthiness during the data analysis process. RESULTS: Four overall themes and twelve first-order themes emerged from the interviews in relation to sedentary behaviors within the family setting. The four overall themes were: behavioral beliefs; parents’ perceptions of sedentary behaviors; prevalence
of sedentary behaviors; and home vs. the external environment as determinants of sedentary behaviors. CONCLUSION: The family setting has an important influence on the sedentary behavior of parents, which has potential consequences for the sedentary behavior of their children. Parents held strong behavioral beliefs regarding their children’s sedentary behaviours within the home environment. Increasing parents’ awareness of what constitutes being sedentary is a critical step in developing effective interventions to reduce time spent in sedentary behaviors in the home environment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2014
EventAmerican College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 29 May 20122 Jun 2012


ConferenceAmerican College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting
Abbreviated titleACSM 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


  • sedentary behaviour
  • parental perceptions
  • child development
  • physical activity
  • physical activity interventions


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