Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Julie Hicks Patrick


Research has provided considerable evidence that participation in regular physical activity is associated with numerous physical and mental health benefits (Penedo & Dahn, 2005). Despite public health efforts to increase the activity levels adults, only 25% of the U.S. adult population is regularly active and nearly 60% remains sedentary (US Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 2008). A small, but growing, area of research has examined physical activity from an intergenerational or dyadic perspective that considers how involvements in close, personal relationships influence levels of physical activity. In a sample of middle-aged mothers and their younger adult children, the present study had three primary objectives: (a) to examine the relations among well-known predictors of physical activity in younger adulthood and midlife, (b) to examine the relations between individual characteristics and interpersonal variables on physical activity within mother-child dyads, and (c) to examine whether mothers influenced their daughters more strongly than their sons. Data from 48 mother-child dyads between the ages of 18 and 57 were collected via an online survey. Findings from the first research objective indicate an adequate fit of the model to the data for middle-aged mothers (chi2 (df = 2; N = 48) = 2.938, p = .230) and younger adults (chi 2 (df = 3; N = 48) = .288, p = .962). With regard to the second research objective, results indicated an adequate fit of the model to the data chi2 (df = 6; N = 48) = 5.057, p = .537. The hypothesized model explained 2.4% of variance in younger adults' physical activity and 17.5% of variance in middle-aged mothers' physical activity. In addition, standardized beta weights provided support for one actor effect, as mothers' internal health locus of control was positively associated with physical activity. (beta = .42). Research objective three was not supported. Findings from this study may help inform the design of future health interventions. Specifically, the results suggest that personal relationships, such as the relationship one has with a family member, may play a role in understanding participation in physical activity.