Family Structure and Physical Activity: A Life Course Analysis

Benedetta Pongiglione , Bocconi University
Mark Hamer, Loughborough University
David Bann, University College London
Alice Sullivan, University College London
George Ploubidis, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies

Over the life-course the level of physical activity (PA) tends to change and decreases in later ages. Adults commonly cite lack of time as one reason for not adopting more active lifestyles. Events related to family structure and relationships occurring in the life-course can affect individuals’ time, including their time to exercise. Drawing on data from the National Children Development Study, we investigate whether changes in marital and parental status, and helping own parents influence changes in PA using fixed effects model. We then relax the assumption of non-reciprocal association between exposure, outcome and time-varying confounders using dynamic fixed effects. Results show that prevalence of PA fluctuates from early to late adulthood and is lowest at the latest observation time point (age 55). We find limited influence of family structure on PA, with married/cohabiting individuals and individuals looking after their parents more likely to be inactive.

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 Presented in Session 15. Lifestyle, Behavior, and Population Health