When moms exercise, kids are more active too, study says

When moms exercise, kids are more active too, study says

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SALT LAKE CITY — Moms have more influence on their young kids than they may realize. Mothers who exercise are more likely to have kids with high activity levels, too, according to a study from the UK.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at the association between preschool-aged children's activity level compared with their mothers. The authors used 554 4-year-olds and their mothers.

The data showed that mothers' activity levels were directly and positively associated at all activity intensities. Mothers who are more likely to sit around the house have kids who are more likely to sit around the house, too.

"It's a positive thing that maternal physical activity levels can influence the activity level of their child," Kathryn Hesketh, a study author, told Reuters Health. "If more time is spent moving, then activity can increase in both."

Moms with young kids, however, don't get much exercise, lead author and behavioral epidemiologist Esther Van Sluijs told NPR. The mothers in the study, on average, spent only 19 minutes a day doing moderate to vigorous activity.

But moms of toddlers who feel like they don't have time or energy to exercise shouldn't feel pressured to immediately increase their activity level, Van Sluijs said. She suggests adding a little more time each week.

"Increasing your physical activity just by a little bit already helps, you don't have to become an athlete." Van Sluijs told NPR. "If you look at (small increases in activity) over a month or a year, that can actually have quite large benefits."

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Tracie Snowder

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