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Parental physical activity, safety perceptions and children’s independent mobility

Maria Paula Santos1*, Andreia N Pizarro1, Jorge Mota1 and Elisa A Marques12

Author affiliations

1 Research Centre in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure (CIAFEL), Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Rua Dr. Plácido Costa 91, Porto 4200-450, Portugal

2 Higher Education Institute of Maia (ISMAI), Maia, Portugal

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:584  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-584

Published: 15 June 2013



Parents are likely to be a basic influence on their children's behavior. There is an absence of information about the associations between parents' physical activity and perception of neighborhood environment with children’s independent mobility.

The purpose of this study is to examine the contribution of parental physical activity and perception of neighborhood safety to children’s independent mobility.


In this cross-sectional study of 354 pupils and their parents, independent mobility, perceptions of neighborhood safety and physical activity were evaluated by questionnaire. Categorical principal components analyses were used to determine the underlying dimensions of both independent mobility and perceptions of neighborhood safety items.


The strongest predictor of independent mobility was the parental perception of sidewalk and street safety (ß = 0.132). Parent’s physical activity was also a significant predictor. The final model accounted for 13.0% of the variance.


Parental perception of neighborhood safety and parents’ self reported physical activity might be associated with children’s independent mobility. Further research in this topic is needed to explore this possible association.

Youth; Residence characteristics; Neighborhood; Environment; Physical activity; Outdoor activity