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Family and Peer Influences


There are currently no specific recommendations for parental or peer influence on children/young people’s sports participation or physical activity, although a number of studies have shown a relationship between parent and childhood activity (Trost et al. 2003).

The UK-wide Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines for physical activity for parents/adults, recommend that over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate intensity activity. This should be completed in bouts of 10 minutes or more, or to do 30 minutes on at least 5 days a week.


The benchmarks used by the Research Work Group to allocate a grade to this indicator were: (1) Percentage of parents who meet the UK Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults. (2) Percentage of family members and peers that take part in sport. (3) Probability of children being ‘hooked on sport’ (percentage of children who take part in sport on three or more occasions a week, in an extracurricular (school-based) or a community club setting) if their parents or peers/friends are also involved in sport.

Survey Data

Three nationally representative data sources were used by the Research Work Group to assign a family and peer influence grade.

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  1. 1

    The Sport Wales Active Adult Survey in 2014 The survey found that 41% (46.3% M, 35.1% F) of the adult population were ‘hooked on sport’ (taking part in sport on 3 or more occasions per week), with the equivalent figure being 39% in 2012.

  2. 2

    The Welsh Health Survey (2014), gathered data on 14,170 adults (aged 16+ years old) from across Wales. Findings revealed that 3 out of 10 adults (38% M, 23% F) reported being physically active for more than 30 minutes on 5 or more days a week. The survey also showed that there has been no increase in physical activity levels in adults since 2003.

  3. 3

    The School Sport Survey (2015) provides data on 115,398 children aged 7-16 years old from across Wales. In this survey, the children reported that 27% of mothers, 36% of fathers, 39% of brothers, 31% of sisters, 35% of other family members and 64% of the children’s friends (peers) took part in sport. The data also showed that 18% and 26% of children took part in sport with their mother and father, respectively. 25% of children took part in sport with their brother, 19% with their sister, 20% with other family members, and 68% with their friends (peers).

    Further analysis of the School Sport Survey (2015) data found there is an increased probability of children being ‘hooked on sport’ (percentage of children who take part in sport on three or more occasions a week, in an extracurricular (school-based) or a community club setting), if their parents or friends are also involved in sport. Results showed a 32% increased chance if their dad, 27% increased chance if their mum, and 23% increased chance if their friends were also involved in sport.

Deciding on a Grade

Although there was little change in the participation in sport and physical activity levels of adults. The additional evidence demonstrating a parental/peer influence on children’s participation in sport, which was absent in the 2014 Report Card, prompted the Research Work Group to assign a grade of D+ compared to D in the 2014 Report Card.

  • All surveys used self-report methods to obtain data on physical activity and sport participation, therefore only surrogate measures were available.
  • There are currently no large scale studies in Wales in which physical activity has been measured objectively in Adults.
  • Since physical inactivity is a problem for children and young people of all ages in Wales (see Overall Physical Activity Levels indicator), interventions could encourage families as a whole to be physically active and reduce sedentary time together.
  • Future research needs to focus on the influence of parents on various amounts and types of physical activity and how these change with age.
  • Parents are encouraged to participate in sport, dance and physical activity. Parents should try to reduce their own and their child/children’s sitting time (sedentary time), especially time spent in front of screens.
  • Parents are encouraged to regularly plan for, and engage in physical activity or sports with their children, particularly in the evenings, weekends and holidays. Parents should encourage active transport and allow their children to explore physically active challenges within their environment.
How to Improve
Data Sources
  • Active Adult Survey 2014 - link
  • School Sport Survey 2015 - link
  • Welsh Health Survey 2014 - link