If you want an active child, get moving yourself

Study shows leading by example, key to health of next generation


CLEVELAND, Ohio – A new report says that by the year 2030, more than 250 million school-aged children will be obese.

But according to one recent study, moms and dads can help keep their kids active by getting themselves moving too.

The study looked at data on more than 4,000 students.

Researchers found that it didn't actually matter how much activity parents did, if kids perceived their parents to be active, the kids were more likely to get adequate physical activity.

This was especially true for children who thought their mothers were physically active.

"Our actions, as parents, actually influence our kids in either direct, or indirect ways," said Dr. Neha Vyas, of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study. "It's really important, in terms of physical activity, if you want your child to be physically active, then you, yourself, shouldn't be a couch potato." 

 Vyas said our children may not always listen, but they do observe, and imitate our actions, so our behaviors as parents matter.

"If we are promoting healthy habits, such as increasing physical activity, and I'm not talking about running a marathon, I'm talking about the simple things that we do every day, like take our dog for a walk. These things count," she said.

In moments when you find yourself reaching for your device, Vyas suggests, instead, maybe take the time to go for walk, or do anything active.

She recommends getting everyone involved, when possible, and suggests going for a hike or a walk together as a family because physical activity is good for everybody.

"If our kids see us doing that, then they will realize that physical activity is just a part of life, that it shouldn't be something that's either a chore, or something they have to do, but something that they get to do, and that activity should be part of their adult life," said Vyas.

Complete results of the study can be found in Preventive Medicine.