Becoming a parent is a life-changing event that affects participation in physical activity. By offering family-oriented physical activity choices that involve both parents and children, midwives and health promoters can encourage parents to be active while their children are involved in their own activities, a Swedish study finds.

More than 75 percent of women and 65 percent of men in the study had participated in outdoor recreational physical activity, varying from several times per month to every day, over a 12-month period prior to one month before pregnancy. The study also found that dog owners spend more time in mild to moderate physical activity compared to non-dog owners.

“The promotion of outdoor recreational [physical activity], which also has restorative effects on well-being, needs to focus on activities which are attractive and affordable for the majority of both women and men,” the study concluded.

1. Sjögren K, Hansson EE, Stjernberg L. Parenthood and factors that influence outdoor recreational physical activity from a gender perspective. BMC Public Health 2011; 11: 93. (open access)