Researchers from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center may have a solution for inactivity among kids: Pair an inactive child with an active buddy.

The primary goal of the study, presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology/Lifestyle Scientific Sessions 2015, was to determine barriers and pathways to increased activity among children and adolescents. Among the 104 participants, the most common barrier to exercise for those under age 12 was self-consciousness; that was followed by lack of enjoyment, poor health, lack of self-discipline and lack of energy. The older subjects cited time constraints, lack of enjoyment and fear of injury as top deterrents.

Researchers learned that 78% of study participants felt supported by family in the effort to become more active; a far lower percentage, 36%–48%, reported that family or friends joined them in physical activity or offered to do so. But when a friend did join them, self-reported barriers seemed to erode among the participants:

“Friends doing physical activity with the participant was associated with many [reductions to] perceived barriers, including lack of interest, energy, enjoyment, equipment, skill, health and knowledge,” the authors observed.

The study abstract can be found in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation (2015; 131, AP083).

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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