This is a guest post from Angel Cicerone, president and co-founder of GetSweaty.com, an initiative to provide parents and educators with physical activity ideas and information for children.
If we ever needed proof of just how significant a role dads play in their kid’s physical health, we certainly got it during the development of GetSweaty.com, an internet site that provides physical activity ideas for kids.
We were recruiting children to star in our workout videos, so we held a casting call. The kids were required to be in good physical shape and able to perform the exercises.
In interviewing nearly 100 children during the process, we asked them all what kind of physical activities they enjoyed. By the end of the day, we had an amazing “A-ha” moment. The majority of the kids indicated their major activities consisted of doing something with their dads. “My dad and I go biking every morning.” “I go running with my dad.” “My dad and I play tennis together.” The story repeated itself in various iterations over and over throughout the day.
It became very clear that dads have a tremendous influence on the type and amount of physical activity a child engaged in. Moreover, it was evident these kids were having fun engaging in these activities and enjoying the time spent with their fathers.
As we began working with the National Fatherhood Initiative, we learned just how important father involvement is in impacting children’s physical health.
A recent study on the factors associated with the physical activity of preschool children found that a father’s BodyMass Index (BMI) -- a measurement of the relative composition of fat and muscle mass in the human body -- is directly related to his children’s activity level.
Another study looked at family lifestyle and parental BMI as predictors of the BMI of their
children. The study was conducted over a 9 year period and found:
- Father’s BMI is predictive of son’s and daughter’s BMI
- BMI in sons and daughters is consistently higher when fathers are overweight or obese
- Obesity of fathers is associated with a four-fold increase in the risk of obesity of sons and daughters at age 18
With over two-thirds of all Americans either overweight or obese, we need to understand that dads and kids can work together to the benefit of their entire family’s physical health. Physical activity not only keeps everyone healthy, it’s a wonderful – and free – opportunity for parents and children to bond and create positive lifelong habits, better health, and wonderful memories.
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