As we know, parents have a strong influence on the development of healthy lifestyle choices of their children. When parents guide their children to eat nutritious snacks and meals and engage in physical activity, they help them establish patterns that can last a lifetime – and usually a healthier lifetime. So how are young people doing?
According to a recent article in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, physical inactivity is increasing among teens in the U.S., especially among girls. In 2005, almost one-third of teens failed to meet national recommendations for moderate to vigorous physical activity (MMWR, 2006). Researchers from The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and San Diego State University explored the relationship between parental influences and adolescent physical activity and whether those relationships were mediated by self-esteem and depression.
Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the researchers found that family cohesion, parent-child communication, and parental engagement positively influenced a teen’s physical activity. They also found that positive parental relationships were associated with their teen’s self-esteem, which in turn led to increased physical activity. The researchers suggest that “a parenting style characterized by warmth and support, while providing adolescents with appropriate levels of autonomy, may be important for achieving recommended levels of physical activity.”
The research suggests that when families spend time together, communicate with each other, and develop strong family bonds they also are more likely to promote physical activity among their teens.
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Ornelas, I., Perreira, K., Ayala, G. Parental influences on adolescent physical activity: a longitudinal study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2007, 4:3 doi:10.1186/1479-5868-4-3. Retrieved on February 5, 2007.
Eaton D, Kann L, Kinchen S, Ross J, Hawkins J, Harris W, Lowry R, McManus T,
Chyen D, Shanklin S, et al: “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance -- United States, 2005”. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Surveillance Summaries2006, 55:1-108. Retrieved on February 14, 2007.