University of Kentucky Will Compensate Subjects For Study on Links Between Physical Activity & Parenting

by John Lynch

Assistant Professor Christina Studts, a social worker and public health researcher on positive parenting at UK, noticed a disturbing trend in own her home.

For all her parenting expertise, to her dismay, she didn’t practice what she preached, especially after the birth of her second child six years ago.

“I knew that evidence-based strategies for positive parenting worked,” she said. “I had taught these strategies for years. Yet when I came home from work I was tired and I saw myself doing things that I knew were wrong.

“I was giving in to whining and temper tantrums, and I wasn’t catching my children being good. I knew the strategies so why was I not doing better?”

She’s hardly alone. Parenting has never seemed so stressful for most Americans. In many homes, both parents work and return home tired. It’s all they can do to get dinner on the table.

And it’s even more stressful in single-parent homes.

Plus, who’s got time to exercise? A variety of cultural factors seemingly have conspired to make modern life a challenge.

Three decades of research shows that positive parenting strategies work for most parents who use them, and their children experience better long-term outcomes, Studts said.

“We are asking, ‘What keeps parents from using the positive parents techniques that they already know work?’” she said.

Answers might be discovered in a new study by Studts and her colleagues in the Department of Health, Behavior & Society at the UK College of Public Health.

She is the principal investigator of the study that will examine the effects of different levels of physical activity on parents’ use of positive parenting techniques.

UK is seeking subjects for the study – mothers of children aged 2-5 years old who sometimes struggle with their children’s behavior. The subjects should also have low physical activity levels is low and be willing to wear a Fitbit.

The study lasts anywhere from two weeks to three months and all subjects will compensated for their time. Plus, for most study sessions, UK researchers can meet subjects at their home.

Said Studts: “We did an exploratory study and found that parents who had the least amount of exercise and most fatigue were the least satisfied with their parenting performance.

“This project is the next step: seeing if that relationship is the same when you look at what parents actually do, not just how satisfied they are with their parenting.”


To volunteer for the study, contact study coordinator Meagan Pilar at (859) 257-8911 or