Behavioral, Environmental, and Demographic Factors Associated with Objectively Measured Physical Activity in Infants

Emily R. Shull, Marsha Dowda, Kerry L. McIver, Alexander C. McLain, Sara E. Benjamin-Neelon, Beverly Ulrich, Russell R. Pate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To describe objectively measured physical activity (PA) in infants, and to identify demographic, behavioral, and environmental factors associated with infants' PA. Methods: Participants were 6-7-month-old infants and their mothers (N = 143 dyads) from two Southeastern US counties. Infant measures included PA assessed by accelerometers at ankle and waist sites, motor developmental status (i.e., stationary and locomotion), and anthropometric characteristics (i.e., height and weight). Mothers provided information on home environment, child care settings, and family demographic factors. PA levels were compared across demographic subgroups. Correlation coefficients described associations between PA and continuous variables, including motor developmental status and anthropometric characteristics. Multiple linear regression analyses examined factors found to be independently associated with PA. Results: Infants' PA counts were greater at the ankle (77,700 counts/hr) vs. the waist site (32,500 counts/hr). In univariate analyses, a diverse set of environmental, behavioral, and infant-level demographic factors were found to be significantly associated with PA at the ankle site. Multivariate analyses indicated that more advanced motor development status (B = 666.3 ± 329.8, p < 0.05), attendance at home child care settings (B = -13,724.4 ± 5083.9, p < 0.05), greater exposure to tummy time (B = 213.5 ± 79.9, p < 0.05), and white racial/ethnic composition (B = -19,953.4 ± 5888.5, p < 0.01) were independently, associated with infants' PA. Conclusions: In 6-7-month-old infants, objectively measured PA was found to be associated with motor developmental status and physical and social environmental factors, including both demographic moderators and factors that are influenced by parents and caregivers. Longitudinal studies are needed to determine if these relationships persist or change as infants develop.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)466-475
Number of pages10
JournalObesity and Weight Management
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • accelerometry
  • child care
  • motor development
  • tummy time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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