Parents can increase children's activity by increasing their own

July 30, 2012, National Jewish Health

Parents concerned about their children's slothful ways can do something about it, according to research at National Jewish Health. They can increase their own activity. In the July 2012 issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Kristen Holm, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at National Jewish Health, and her colleagues report that, when parents increase their daily activity, as measured by a pedometer, their children increase theirs as well.

"It has long been known that parent and child activity levels are correlated," said Dr. Holm. "This is the first intervention-based study to prospectively demonstrate that when parents increase their activity, increase theirs as well. The effect was more pronounced on weekends."

In the study, 83 families were enrolled in a family-based intervention designed to prevent excess weight gain among overweight and ages 7 to 14. Parents and children participated in a program based on the small-changes approach promoted by the America on the Move initiative. Children and parents were encouraged to increase their physical activity by walking an additional 2,000 steps per day. Mothers in all 83 families participated in the program, while only 34 fathers participated.

On days that mothers reached or exceeded their 2000-step goal, children took an average of 2,117 additional steps, compared to 1,175 additional steps when mothers did not reach their goal. Father-child activity showed a similar pattern. Overall, for each 1,000 additional steps a mother took, the child took 196 additional steps. The effect of parental activity was most pronounced on Saturdays and Sundays. The researchers speculate that this increased effect may occur because parents and children exercised together more frequently on weekends, and that weekends may be a particularly effective time for parents to foster additional activity by their children.

The effect was relatively short-lived. A parent's current day's activity had the most effect, while the previous day and week had an attenuated effect. ' baseline activity did not predict a child's change in activity, although a child's baseline did; children who were less active at baseline took more additional steps than did more active children.

Explore further: Experts: Gym gone but not forgotten? Parents want more physical activity at school for kids

Related Stories

Experts: Gym gone but not forgotten? Parents want more physical activity at school for kids

April 18, 2011
Childhood obesity affects 1 of every 6 kids in the United States, in part due to a lack of physical activity. Schools can play a key part in offering elementary-age kids lots of chances to be active—on the playground ...

Nearly half of preschoolers lack one parent-supervised playtime per day

April 2, 2012
Parents reported that about half of the preschoolers in a nationally representative sample did not have at least one parent-supervised outdoor playtime per day, according to a report published Online First by Archives of ...

Recommended for you

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.