Parents - kids won't get active without your help!

Parents are crucial in getting kids enough exercise.

Children spend more time in front of the screen when parents aren't home often or spent less time with them, according to an article in HealthDay News.

According to the article, children of so-called "neglectful" parents spent up to 30 additional minutes every day watching TV or playing video games compared to children whose parents were around more often.

Early childhood behavior sets the stage

"A half an hour each day may not seem like much, but add that up over a week, then a month, then a year and you have a big impact," said David Schary, lead researcher and doctoral student at Oregon State University.

Physical activity is one key factor in weight control and a healthy lifestyle. Overweight and obesity are risk factors in developing type 2 diabetes.

Schary told HealthDay News, "One child may be getting up to four hours more active play every week, and this sets the stage for the rest of their life."

The Oregon State study followed 200 families with young children ages 2 to 4 years old. All children spent four to five hours sitting in a typical day.

According to HealthDay News, Schary was concerned with the level of sedentary activity of all children in the study.

Parental encouragement is crucial

The researchers found that young children were more likely to participate in active play when their parents played with them.

This positive effect extended to any level of encouragement that parents showed, even watching the child play or driving her to an activity.

As Schary told HealthDay News,

"When children are very young, playing is the main thing they do during waking hours, so parental support and encouragement is crucial. So when we see preschool children not going outside much and sitting while playing with a cell phone or watching TV, we need to help parents counteract that behavior."

An hour of exercise daily

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children and adolescents should get one hour or more of physical activity every day.

Aerobic activity should make up most of a child's physical activity each day, according to CDC. Brisk walking or running are examples of appropriate moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity activities.

In addition, children should engage in muscle strengthening exercises at least three days a week. Gymnastics or push ups are examples of appropriate activities.

Bone strengthening at least three days a week is also important. Jumping rope and running are examples of bone strengthening activities.

Sources: HealthDay News, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Photo by John Nyboer

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