THURSDAY, Aug. 2, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Parents who want to increase the amount of exercise their children get should become more active themselves, according to a new study.
"It has long been known that parent and child activity levels are correlated," study author Kristen Holm, an assistant professor of medicine at National Jewish Health in Denver, said in a news release. "[This study] demonstrated that when parents increase their activity, children increase theirs as well. The effect was more pronounced on weekends."
The study, published in the July issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, involved 83 families participating in a program designed to curb weight gain among overweight and obese children ranging in age from 7 to 14.
The parents and children in the program were encouraged to boost their level of daily activity by walking 2,000 more steps each day. Their progress was tracked with pedometers.
The study revealed that on the days mothers reached or exceeded the 2,000-step goal, their children took an average of 2,117 more steps. When mothers did not reach the goal, their kids took only 1,175 extra steps. The researchers pointed out that the children who were less active when the program started took more additional steps than the children who were more active.
Overall, the researchers found that for every 1,000 additional steps taken by a mother, their child took 196 more steps. The researchers saw a similar pattern among the fathers and their children.
The researchers suggested that parents and children exercising together more often on weekends resulted in this increase in exercise.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on the benefits of physical activity.