As parents exercise, so do children

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A new study says the best way for parents to keep children active might be to stay active themselves.

The study, which was published online in the journal Pediatrics in March 2014, observed the exercise habits of 554 mothers of 4-year-olds. Researchers found a direct correlation between the amount of exercise that mothers performed and the amount of exercise in which their children were engaged.

Dr. Rallie McAllister, who is an author, says young children, particularly those who haven’t started school, adopt their parents’ habits, including exercise. Although the study focused on the relationship between mothers and their children, McAllister says the study’s findings apply to fathers, too.

McAllister says working out at home instead of at a gym exposes children to exercise. She says parents also can make physical activity a part of everyday situations. This can include using stairs instead of an elevator.