R&C: Exercise and Parenting

This week’s paper is about exercise.  And parenting.  And exercising while parenting.  And controlling for self-reporting vs measured exercise….all topics that I personally find fascinating and close to home. The study is Associations between parenting partners’ objectively-assessed physical activity and Body Mass Index: A cross-sectional study which is a mouthful of a name, but is much simpler than it looks.  Essentially it’s comparing parenting partners (moms and dads who live together, but may or may not be married) and their activity levels.  This has been done before, but mostly using self reporting.  This study was attempting to see what physical activity rates were when people wore a monitor to track their activity levels.  This controls for the very real possibility that people may inflate their activity levels to match their spouse, or spouses may both inflate their activity levels, etc etc.  Here’s the study:



Now this is some interesting data.  Controlling for multiple other factors, women’s activity levels do appear to be positively correlated with their coparent’s….but mostly on weekends.   The study authors suggest that much activity during the week is actually a product of commuting or other routines, and thus is less correlated to what your spouse dose.  Makes sense.

What makes less sense is trying to tie activity level directly to weight loss, which the authors do right in the introduction.  While exercise is good for all sorts of things, increasing it does not automatically result in weight loss.  Interestingly, even among study participants the more active gender (men) did not have a lower BMI than the less active gender (women).  Of course for this study, the data set did not include any information about the current health status of the participants, so we don’t know if some of them were active and trying to lose weight during the study, or any other confounding factors.  Either way, it does seem clear that you will likely pick up some of your partners health habits, so chose wisely.