Does having unfit parents = unfit children?

The poor habits displayed by unfit parents may be discouraging their children from leading healthier lifestyles, new research has found. Published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, the study suggested youngsters whose parents do little physical activity are less likely to exercise themselves.

A team from the University of Essex discovered children with inactive mothers and fathers have a 50 per cent greater risk of being unfit than their peers who have more fitness-conscious mums and dads.

According to the investigation, more than two-thirds of those questioned said their parents do almost no physical activity, despite the London Olympic Games – which is thrusting the issue of fitness into the limelight – being just around the corner.

Dr Gavin Sandercock, who led the research, noted: “We know that being unfit is much worse for your health than being obese and we are now finding out that it is also much more common.”

He added it is “quite frightening” to learn that one-quarter of children are unable to run at a medium jogging speed of seven mph.

Philip Johnson, a Chartered Psychologist, comments: “Parents often overestimate their influence on children. We know from sport that coaches can have a powerful influence on young athletes’ activity levels, eating habits and the way they behave more generally. Parents are even stronger role models than that.

“Parents are also in charge of family nutrition, of course, so if they encourage activity and proper nutrition they can have a good influence across a child’s lifetime.”

3 responses to “Does having unfit parents = unfit children?

  1. I must admit, being overweight for most of my life, I can trace it back to visually seeing food choices when I was going up. All we can do is set an example

  2. Yes, absolutely agree. I don’t like swimming but I make myself go for my childrens sake. There are mornings I want to jump in the car and drive to school but am always so glad when my daughter and I walk as we chat along the way and are nice and relaxed when we get to school. Parents must show a good example to their children and it also is great ‘family’ time, going for long walks, bike riding, swimming etc. And of course nutrition is key. If the example is not set in the home, it just wont be carried through no matter what schools do.

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