Parent activity level creates lifelong habit for children

July 12, 2012 | Posted in: Early Learners, Elementary, High School, Middle Years

It should come as no surprise that the activity level of parents plays a key role in determining their children’s activity level. A new study emphasizes the importance of parents setting the stage for their children to becoming active adults – so it’s information worth repeating.

Researchers at Oregon State University studied 200 families with children ages 2 to 4 to determine how parenting style affects children’s physical activity levels. Children in the study spent four to five hours sitting during a typical day. Those children whose parents weren’t home often or who spent less time with them clocked up to 30 additional minutes per day of screen time (e.g., television or video game).

“A half an hour each day may not seem like much, but add that up over a week, then a month, then a year and you have a big impact,” study lead author David Schary, a doctoral student in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, said in a university news release. “One child may be getting up to four hours more active play every week, and this sets the stage for the rest of their life.”

Schary and a colleague conducted a second study with the same families and found that active play was most common among children whose parents played with them. They found that any level of parental involvement – something as simple as watching their child play or driving them to an activity – had a positive effect.

The studies were published June 21 in the journal “Early Child Development and Care. ”

Movement is essential at any age, but making exercise a family activity allows you to spend time together doing something healthy. Looking for some ideas to get started? Check out these resources:

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