Date Published: May 29, 2019
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Kimberley D. Lakes, Jessica Vaughan, Shlomit Radom-Aizik, Candice Taylor Lucas, Annamarie Stehli, Dan Cooper, Chung-Ying Lin.
Physical activity (PA) is important from birth to promote health and motor development. Parents of young children are gatekeepers of opportunities for PA, yet little is known about their perceptions of PA. We describe the development of the Parent Perceptions of Physical Activity Scale (PPPAS) across two studies (N = 241 parents). In Study 1, 143 parents of infants and toddlers recruited from neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and childcare centers completed a 48-item PPPAS. In Study 2, 98 parents of premature infants completed the revised 34-item PPPAS. Study 1 principal components analysis (PCA) identified three components (benefits of, barriers to, and perceived influence on PA), and the scale was reduced. Scores for Perceived Barriers to PA were significantly different between groups, U = 1,108, z = -4.777, p < .0001, with NICU parents reporting more barriers to PA than childcare parents. In Study 2, PCA revealed the same components, and the scale was further reduced to 25 items. Three subscales measuring perceived benefits of, barriers to, and influence over an infant’s PA produced Cronbach’s alphas of .93, .85, .81, respectively. Results demonstrated sufficient construct validity and internal consistency of PPPAS scores, supporting its use in future PA research.
National guidelines recommend that starting at birth, infants should engage in daily age appropriate physical activity . Physical activity (PA) in infants (described as including exploratory movement, physical interactions with the environment, tummy time, active play, and opportunities to develop movement skills) has been associated with better overall health, development of motor skills, social skills, and maintenance of healthy weight . Recent increases in health problems, including childhood obesity, highlight the importance of the need to actively promote PA as early as during infancy.
Current guidelines support the longitudinal benefits of encouraging PA early in life. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education  recognized the importance of PA early in life and presented specific guidelines for children from birth to 5 years of age. In infants from birth to 12 months PA recommendations do not specify duration but include promoting the exploration of the environment, promoting motor skill development and not restricting movement for prolonged periods of time. In toddlers, it is recommended that they participate in at least 30 minutes of structured and 60 minutes of unstructured PA daily. Similarly in Caring for our Children, a collection of national standards written by American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association and National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education  it is recommended that infants birth to 12 months should be taken outside two to three times per day for outdoor play.