By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer
Parents do have influence on their children. But peer pressure can be a big factor in how your children relate to their own health, diet and fitness needs. According to Russell Jago, Ph.D., in his research study, Better with a Buddy: Influence of Best Friends on Children’s Physical Activity in the Feb. 2011 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, boys who have active friends spend more time participating in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity than those with inactive best friends. The study also found that girls who frequently engage in physical activity with their best friends have higher levels of physical activity. Boys and girls who take part in physical activity with their best friends, at home or in the neighborhood where they live, tend to have in higher levels of physical activity.
The Better with a Buddy study examined how the physical activity of self-identified best friends were associated with the physical activity of 10-to-11-year-old children in Bristol. Their research showed that girls played with their best friends in a physical activity five or more times per week ended up with nine more minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day than those who were active with their best friend once a week or less. Girls who were played actively with their best friends at home or in their neighborhoods had six more minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day than those who were only active with their best friends at school. At the same time, boys who were active with their best friend at home or in the neighborhood had 11 more minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity than those who were just active with their best friends at school. The boys in the study averaged 42 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day. The girls averaged 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day, these analyses indicate that having best friends who are active and active outside of school can make significant contributions to children’s physical activity levels.
The study findings suggest that parents and schools should encourage children to take part in physical activity with their best friends.
Who is Russell Jago?
Russell Jago, Ph.D., a Reader in Exercise, Nutrition & Health in the Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences at the University of Bristol in the U.K. His research focuses on children’s physical activity and behavioral interventions to increase physical activity and prevent childhood obesity.
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- Parent Tips on Physical Activity (education.com)
- Exercise in Middle Childhood (education.com)
- Exercise and Physical Activity: What’s the Difference? (everydayhealth.com)
- Get kids off the couch after school: report (cbc.ca)
- Canadian children get an F for physical activity (calgaryherald.com)
- Combining physical activity with classroom lessons improves academics (news.bioscholar.com)
- Kids average 40 hours a week in front of TV, computer (parentcentral.ca)