LONDON: A British study of 500 women and their four-year-olds has found that physically agility in children is related to how active their mothers are. Parents are strong influences in the lives of young children with patterns of behaviour established in the early years. Researchers found that mothers of toddlers and children with minimal physical activity themselves lacked recommended exercise levels. For every minute of moderate-to-vigorous activity a mother engaged in, her child was more likely to engage in 10% more of the same level of activity. If a mother was one hour less sedentary per day, her child may have spent 10 minutes less sedentary per day. Cambridge University researchers said, "A study of physical activity patterns of women and their four-year-olds reveals a strong association between the two. It also shows that only 53% of mothers engaged in 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity at least once a week. When it comes to levels of physical activity, it is mothers who set or don't set the pace." The analysis of the physical activity levels of more than 500 mothers and pre-schoolers assessed using activity monitors to produce accurate data found that the amount of activity that a mother and her child did each day was closely related. Overall maternal activity levels were strikingly low: only 53% of mothers engaged in 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least once a week. Esther van Sluijs from University of Cambridge said, "Active mothers appear to have active school-aged children who are in turn more likely than their less active peers to have good health outcomes. But there has been little large-scale research into the association between the activity of mothers and that of preschool-aged children.".
Of the 554 mothers whose data was analyzed, many were working and many of the children attended day-care facilities - factors that influenced activity levels of both mothers and children. Kathryn Hesketh from the University of Southampton added, "We saw a direct, positive association between physical activity in children and their mothers - the more activity a mother did, the more active her child. Although it is not possible to tell from this study whether active children were making their mothers run around after them, it is likely that activity in one of the pair influences activity in the other."