Washington: Parents who want their kids to be active should first become more active themselves, a new study has claimed.
Researchers from National Jewish Health found 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, Kristen Holm, Assistant Professor of Medicine at National Jewish Health said in a statement.
This is the first intervention-based study to prospectively demonstrate that when parents increase their activity, children increase theirs as well. The effect was more pronounced on weekends, Holm said.
In the study, 83 families were enrolled in a family-based intervention designed to prevent excess weight gain among overweight and obese children ages 7 to 14.
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.
The study was published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.
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.