New research suggests children are 10% more likely to participate in physical activity if their parents are also involved in an active lifestyle. Evidence has found children mirror their parents' everyday activity levels, which brings a whole new meaning to -setting an example'.
'According to Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, young children should be active for at least three hours a day," says Anita Hobson-Powell, Executive Officer of Exercise & Sports Science Australia.
Researchers say, activity levels of both parents and children were found to be directly associated, suggesting that children are not -just naturally active' they take cues from their parents.
Increasing family activity is extremely important to the health, development and wellbeing of children, researchers urge.
'Parents are a huge influence; it's just a matter of what this influence is. Parents have an important role to play in the development of healthy habits early on in their children's lives," says Anita.
The study conducted by the University of Cambridge, analysed a group of more than 550 mothers and their four year-old preschoolers whilst using motion detecting monitors over the duration of a week.
The study also uncovered nearly half the participants did not achieve at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on one day of the study.
'Despite evidence of the benefits of exercise, activity levels decrease through childhood and into adulthood, extending into the childbearing years.
Once women become mothers their activity levels often fail to return to pre-parenthood levels and this may influence that of their children.
There are many competing priorities for new parents and making time to be active may not always be top of the list. However, small increases can lead to long-term health benefits for the whole family," says Anita.
Fun activities that are sure to get the whole family involved:
1. Set physical activity goals that everyone can achieve together.
2. Use a chart on the fridge to record when you've been active.
3. Plan a weekend play date at the start of the week.
4. Do those boring activities, like tiding the kids rooms, together and make it fun by putting on some music and dance along.
5. Celebrate your activity together by rewarding your kids and enforcing a positive attitude.
For any parents that have concerns over increasing their activity levels, contact your local accredited exercise physiologists for advice.
Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is the peak professional body for exercise and sports science in Australia, ESSA provides national leadership and advocacy on key issues and supports its members and the community through fostering excellence in professional practice, education and training, and research. www.essa.org.au