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Active Voice: Parents shouldn't miss active play opportunities with their children

from By Genevieve F. Dunton, Ph.D, MPH

Viewpoints presented in SMB commentaries reflect opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of ACSM.

Genevieve F. Dunton, Ph.D, MPH, is an assistant professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California. Her research is dedicated to understanding the behavioral contributors to chronic disease risk in children and adults, with particular focus on physical activity and nutrition. See the August 2012 issue of ACSM's Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise® (MSSE) for a related research article she coauthored, titled “Joint Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in Parent-Child Pairs.”

Parents play an important role in shaping children’s physical activity levels through modeling and supporting children’s participation in sports and other activities. We know that physically active parents are more likely to have physically active children. However, until lately, we knew very little about how much physical activity parents and children actually perform together. In a recent study, we found that joint parent-child physical activity is quite rare. On average, parents and children spent only two and a half minutes per day in physical activity together, whereas they spent over an hour and a half together in joint sedentary behavior. Although discouraging, these findings were not completely unexpected. Families with kids are busy, and finding time to be physically active together can be tough. more

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