Parent behaviour is biggest influence on children’s physical activity levels

The most significant factor in whether children are physically active is the example set by their parents, according to a leading sports scientist.

Writing in LePape, one of the best-read specialist running magazines in French, Anaël Aubry said the effect of parents’ behaviour on their children cannot be underestimated.

“Children are often the mirror of their parents,” he explained. “In studies that seek to find out why some do sport and others not, the most influential factor is the activity of parents.”

Dr Aubry, scientific advisor to the French triathlon and open water swimming teams, lamented that only 11 percent of girls, and 25 percent of boys, aged 6 to 17, do a minimum of one hour a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, as recommended by the World Health Organization.

He called on parents to set an example by taking part in a variety of sports and physical activities.

“If you care about your children, whether for their mental, physical or health development, move with them!”

He added: “It’s never too late… All the leading medical specialists agree on the contribution that your lifestyle will have (physical activity, what’s on your plate, sleep, anxiety/stress) on your healthy life expectancy.”

Read the full article in French.

Here at Active Parents Active Kids, we know there are many reasons why families are not active, including resources (time, money and equipment), lack of safe open spaces, fear and shyness, inexperience, social isolation, or because there are not enough local activities attractive or accessible to them.

We believe in giving adults and children a range of opportunities to try being active together, from a choice of providers, and local organisations (voluntary, public and commercial) working in partnership.