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Parenting and Finding Exercise Time

New research suggests that parents of many small children need more support for exercise.

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Parenting and Exercise

Generally speaking, fitness program directors and creators may want to brainstorm how to offer family focused fitness programs, or how to provide more robust child care. This concern has become especially meaningful in light of new research that shows that parents of multiple small children achieve significantly less vigorous physical activity when compared with adults of fewer children or those with no children. Researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2007-2016 that included 2,034 adults between 22 to 65 years of age.

“Parents often face numerous challenges in finding the time and energy to engage in regular physical activity while caring for their children,” says study co-author Bettina M. Beech, Dr PH, MPH, chief population health officer at University of Houston in Texas and clinical professor of population health. “By understanding these barriers, we can develop targeted interventions to help parents lead healthier and more active lives.”

Another interesting finding from the study is that the impact on physical activity levels did not differ significantly between mothers and fathers. More research is recommended to understand these relationships.

The research is reported in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2023; doi:10.3390/ijerph20115942).

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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