The Effect of Work and Parental Role Occupancy and Role Performance on Exercise Participation among U.s. Adults

Open Access
Sherman-Wilkins, Kyler James
Graduate Program:
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
November 21, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Melissa Hardy, Thesis Advisor
  • Michelle Lynn Frisco, Thesis Advisor
  • Dr. Molly A. Martin, Thesis Advisor
  • Work
  • Parenthood
  • Role Occupancy
  • Role Performance
  • Exercise
  • Time Use
To maintain a healthy weight and minimize the risk of negative health outcomes, federal guidelines advocate for regular participation in moderate-intensity exercise. Despite the efforts of such public health campaigns, many Americans may find it difficult to engage in the recommended amount of exercise while also devoting time to the demands of work and parenting. Previous research examining the relationship between work, parenting, and taking part in exercise has not adequately teased apart the differences between occupying a role and performing said role. Using data from the American Time Use Survey’s (ATUS) Eating and Health Module (EHM), I draw on social role theory and the time availability perspective to examine whether there are distinct effects of worker/parental occupancy versus work/parenting role performance. Results from zero-inflated negative binomial regression models indicate that the relationship among work, parenting, and exercise varies depending on whether the worker/parent role is operationalized in terms of occupancy or performance. I conclude that research focusing on the link between social roles and health behaviors must take care not to conflate role occupancy indicators with role performance indicators.