Children are more likely to be physically active if they have parents who provide a high level of support and encouragement for their child to be active and also place few restrictions or demands on their children’s time. The finding is from a study conducted among rural familes from four U.S. states (California, Mississippi, South Carolina and Kentucky).

Physical activity provides important health benefits for children including increased physical fitness, reduced body fatness, favorable cardiovascular risk profiles, enhanced bone health, and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. Despite the known benefits, few U.S. children meet the current recommendation of 60 minutes of physical activity per day, and unless they participate in a structured sport children are likely to become more sedentary as they age.

Given that rural children living in under-resourced communities have limited access to physical activity opportunities, it is important for parents to encourage their children to be more active, the study said.

1. Hennessy E, Hughes SO, Goldberg JP, et al. Parent-child interactions and objectively measured child physical activity: a cross-sectional study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2010; 7: 71. (0pen access)