Effects of a family-based lifestyle intervention on co-physical activity and other health-related outcomes of fathers and their children: the ‘Run Daddy Run’ intervention

Julie Latomme*, Philip J. Morgan, Sebastien Chastin, Ruben Brondeel, Greet Cardon

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Fathers are important in establishing healthy behaviors in their children, but are rarely engaged in lifestyle programs. Focusing on physical activity (PA) of both fathers and their children by engaging them together in PA (i.e. “co-PA”) is therefore a promising novel strategy for interventions. The study aim was to investigate the effect of the ‘Run Daddy Run’ on co-PA and PA of fathers and their children, and secondary outcomes such as weight status and sedentary behaviour (SB). Methods: This study is a non-randomized controlled trial (nRCT), including 98 fathers and one of their 6 to 8 years old children (intervention = 35, control = 63). The intervention was implemented over a 14-week period, and consisted of six (inter)active father-child sessions and an online component. Due to COVID-19, only 2/6 sessions could be implemented as planned, the remaining sessions were delivered online. In November 2019-January 2020 pre-test measurements took place, and post-test measurements in June 2020. Additional follow-up test was conducted in November 2020. PA (i.e. LPA, MPA, VPA and volume) of fathers and children were objectively measured using accelerometry, co-PA and the secondary outcomes were questioned using an online questionnaire. Results: Significant intervention effects were found for co-PA (+ 24 min./day in the intervention compared to the control group, p = 0.002), and MPA of the father (+ 17 min./day, p = 0.035). For children, a significant increase in LPA (+ 35 min./day, p < 0.001) was found. However, an inverse intervention effect was found for their MPA and VPA (-15 min./day, p = 0.005 and − 4 min./day, p = 0.002, respectively). Also decreases in fathers’ and children’s SB were found (-39 min./day, p = 0.022 and − 40 min./day, p = 0.003, respectively), but no changes in weight status, the father-child relationship, and the PA-family health climate (all p > 0.05). Conclusion: The Run Daddy Run intervention was able to improve co-PA, MPA of fathers and LPA of children, and decreasing their SB. Inverse intervention effects were however found for MPA and VPA of children. These results are unique given their magnitude and clinical relevance. Targeting fathers together with their children might be a novel and potential intervention strategy to improve overall physical activity levels, however, further efforts should however be made to target children’s MPA and VPA. Last, replicating these findings in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) is recommended for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number342
Number of pages15
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2023


  • Intervention
  • Co-physical activity
  • Physical activity
  • Fathers
  • Children
  • Families

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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