Staying active has never been as important as it is right now. When we think of preschoolers, we think of an endless source of energy, but we're learning that a child's physical activity level is heavily dependent on their parents.
According to a new study done by researchers at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, children will follow their parents' behavior, whether they're exercising or sitting down. The study, which was recently published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, followed over 1,000 parent-child pairs with activity trackers for 12 hours a day for one week.
The Daily Mail reports that they found a strong correlation between parent and child sedentary behavior and mild physical activity. "They also found that up to 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) by a parent correlated with their preschool-age child's level of MVPA. For every minute that a parent spent in sedentary behavior, the child's sedentary behavior increased by 0.10 minutes."
The study was completed in part of an ongoing effort to decrease childhood obesity in the United States. Many parents don't realize how much their activity levels influence their children's, and hopefully further developments in this study will change that.
"The good news is that increasing physical activity is not only good for parents' health, it also helps set these behaviors in their young children as well," said lead investigator Dr. Shari Barkin, director of Pediatric Obesity Research at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. "It's doubly good for family health. Setting this habit early could impact good health not only in childhood but in adulthood as well."
It's important to point out that national guidelines recommend preschoolers have about three hours of physical activity each day — light, moderate, and vigorous — but less than half of preschoolers get the suggested one hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day.