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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Health and Human Development

First Advisor

Keeler, Linda

Second Advisor

Chalmers, Gordon R.

Third Advisor

Russell, Keith C., 1968-


A large majority of mothers of young children are not sufficiently active to obtain health benefits, and motherhood itself has been associated with irregular physical activity. Ironically, however, a mother’s demanding and busy life presents one of the most relevant opportunities for which exercise may be extremely advantageous. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to determine the effectiveness of an exercise intervention for increasing physical activity levels and perceived social support for exercise among mothers of young children who serve as primary caregivers. Thirty one mothers with at least one child under the age of five were recruited to participate in the study. A treatment group (n=16) participated in an instructor-led “Squat-n-Swap” exercise program once per week for four weeks, followed by four weeks without instructor supervision. A control group (n= 15) did not participate in the exercise program. Participants completed a questionnaire before and after the study in order to assess their physical activity levels and perceived social support for exercise, and comparative analysis was used to evaluate the differences in pre to post-study levels of these variables. Mixed between-within groups ANOVAs with a significance of p < 0.05 were used to analyze the data, as well as a chi square analysis. Post-hoc t-tests were conducted to determine the source of differences among statistically significant ANOVA interactions utilizing a Bonferroni correction of p < .0125. Cross tabs also revealed positive changes in women’s perceptions of changes in their physical activity levels. Results also revealed significant interactions for support in the forms of childcare, information, companionship, and validation. The “Squat-N-Swap” model might be a useful option for mothers of young children who would benefit from social support to exercise; however, more research is needed to ascertain this program’s effectiveness in increasing physical activity levels among this population.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Mothers--Health and hygiene--Social aspects; Exercise for women; Physical fitness for women; Exercise--Social aspects; Exercise--Health aspects; Postnatal care




masters theses




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Kinesiology Commons