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Kids Of Parents Who Value Exercise Are More Active

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

According to a recent study, children are more likely to exercise, be active or join a sports team if their parents are engaged in a healthy lifestyle.

Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Duke University studied 681 parents and 433 fourth and fifth grade studentws at 12 schools in Houston, Texas. The children, both boys and girls, of parents who valued high-intensity team sports watched TV less, spent less time on their computers and were more active than other children.

Parents’ approval of all types of exercise, including team and individual sports, was associated with increased activity levels among boys, but not among girls.

“The difference between activity levels in the girls and boys had to do with the parents’ attitudes toward the types of activities,” study author Cheryl Braselton Anderson said in a news release. “Parents encouraged sons to partake in vigorous-and moderate-intensity team and individual sports, and vigorous-intensity home chores, such as heavy yard work, more than they encouraged these activities for their daughters.”

Anderson said this shows there is still a “gender bias on encouraging boys to participate in certain sports and strenuous activities more than girls.” The study appears in the July 2009 issue of Health Psychology.

For the study, vigorous team sports included soccer and basketball, moderate team sports included baseball/softball, football and volleyball. Intense individual sports included running, cycling, swimming and skating, while moderate individual activity included walking and golf. Vigorous household chores included heavy yard work and moving furniture, while cleaning, raking leaves, weeding and carrying groceries were defined as moderate household chores.

“Playing team sports, especially the more strenuous ones, really makes a difference in decreasing both boys’ and girls’ media use and making them more active,” Anderson said. “It’s a good idea for parents to adopt a positive attitude toward all types of vigorous physical activities for boys and girls and know that girls can and want to do them.”

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