Study: Active Mums Influence Children to be Active

Mothers who run may not only improve their own health, but the health of their children. A recent study finds that mothers who are physically active are likely to have children who are also active.

The study, conducted by researchers from Cambridge and Southhampton universities, showed that, “The more activity a mother did, the more active her child,” Kathryn Hesketh, who co-led the study, said in a BBC news report. “Although it is not possible to tell from this study whether active children were making mothers run around after them, it is likely that activity in one of the pair influences activity in the other.”

To conduct the study, researchers had 554 four-year-olds and their mothers wear lightweight heart-rate monitors/accelerometers on their chest for up to seven days.

According to the BBC report, the study showed that for every minute the mother was moderately-to-vigorously active, the child was likely to engage in 10 per cent more of the same level of activity. “If a mother was one hour less sedentary per day, her child may have spent 10 minutes less sedentary per day,” the report said. “Such small minute-by-minute differences therefore represents a non-trival amount of activity over the course of a week, month and year.”

It also stated that every hour of sendentary time in mothers would result in 10.8 minutes of sedentary time for children.

The study found that only 53 per cent of the mothers engaged in 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least once a week. Whether or not the mother worked or if the child had brothers or sister could influence the mother’s activity level.

The study concludes that encouraging mothers to be more active will likely increase the activity of their children.

“Providing targeted interventions for mothers of young children may increase both groups’ activity,” the report says.

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