Washington D.C. [USA], Jan. 10 : Dear parents, if you exercise regularly, then it can directly affect the health of your kids in childhood as well as adulthood.
A new study suggests that kids aged three to five are more likely to be physically active if their parents increase activity and reduce sedentary lifestyle.
The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, examined the impact of parent modeling of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in low-income American ethnic minorities, included data from more than 1,000 parent-child pairs.
The participants live in metro areas of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota and Nashville, Tennessee.
Each parent and child wore an accelerometer for an average of 12 hours a day, for a week.
This is the first study to link the physical activity of parents and young children by objectively measuring that physical activity with such a long wear time for an accelerometer.
Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the US found that the preschoolers' total physical activity was 6.03 hours per day with 1.5 hours spent in moderate to vigorous activity.
"This study highlights how important parents' physical activity is to shaping their young children's physical activity," said principal investigator Shari Barkin.
"The good news is that increasing physical activity is not only good for parents' health, it also helps set these behaviours in their young children as well. It's doubly good for family health. Setting this habit early could impact good health not only in childhood but in adulthood as well," Barkin added.
Physical activity is a critical factor for preventing childhood obesity and promoting good cardiovascular health.
Recommendations call for preschoolers is to obtain about three hours a day of total physical activity (light, moderate and vigorous) with at least one hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA).
The reports show that less than half of preschoolers actually achieve that recommendation.
They also found that up to 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity by a parent correlated with their preschool-age child's level of MVPA.
Similarly, for every minute a parent engaged in light physical activity, the child's light physical activity increased by 0.06 minutes.