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Kids of Parents Who Value Exercise Are More Active

Study found parents still show a gender bias, however

MONDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- Children are more likely to join a sports team or be active if their parents like team sports, U.S. researchers report.

The researchers studied 681 parents and 433 fourth- and fifth-grade students at 12 schools in Houston to reach that conclusion. The children -- both boys and girls -- of parents who valued high-intensity team sports watched less TV, spent less time on their computers, and were more active than other children.

Parents' approval of all types of exercise -- both individual and team sports -- was associated with increased activity levels among boys, but not among girls, said the researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Duke University.

The study appears in the July issue of Health Psychology.

"The difference between activity levels in the girls and boys had to do with the parents' attitudes toward the types of activities," study author Cheryl Braselton Anderson said in a journal news release. "Parents encouraged sons to partake in vigorous-and moderate-intensity team and individual sports, and vigorous-intensity home chores, such as heavy yard work, more than they encouraged these activities for their daughters."

Anderson said this shows there is still a "gender bias on encouraging boys to participate in certain sports and strenuous activities more than girls."

For the study, vigorous team sports included soccer and basketball, moderate team sports included baseball/softball, football and volleyball. Intense individual sports included running, cycling, swimming and skating, while moderate individual activity included walking and golf. Vigorous household chores included heavy yard work and moving furniture, while cleaning, raking leaves, weeding and carrying groceries were defined as moderate household chores.

"Playing team sports, especially the more strenuous ones, really makes a difference in decreasing both boys' and girls' media use and making them more active," Anderson said. "It's a good idea for parents to adopt a positive attitude toward all types of vigorous physical activities for boys and girls and know that girls can and want to do them."

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and exercise.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Psychological Association, news release, July 6, 2009

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