Fit Parents? Not Necessarily, Their Kids

OK.  You can relax.  It's not your fault if your teen doesn't imitate your fitness routine and is a flabby couch potato.

A new study has found that kids just don't seem to care.  I can use my own home as an example.  My husband and I exercise for at least an hour seven days a week, while our son stays glued to the computer.  Thankfully, he's skinny, but his staying so firmly planted in the family room cannot be good for his health.

True to our experience, the study found "there was little correlation between teens' fitness levels and whether the teens had one or both parents who regularly engaged in physical activity, researchers said," Ann Lukits at The Wall Street Journal reports.

My husband (a former pro) is teaching our son tennis and Phillip does love to kick a soccer ball around the backyard.  But does he swim in the summer like he used to, when he was seven and eight and nine?  No.  Does he ride his bike?  No.  Sadly, the neighborhood friend he used to race around with moved away and he hasn't been able to replace him.  So the computer is just more tempting.

Everyone knows that being physically fit in childhood helps fight heart disease later in life.  But what if they're not?

According to Lukits' story, only 8% of the teens in the study (all in Germany) met the World Health Organization's recommended 60 minutes of moderate activity per day. Not surprisingly, "those with a normal weight, based on measures of body mass index, and higher activity levels, were the fittest," she notes.

But "having a normal-weight father or a mother who was physically active on a regular basis didn't significantly influence adolescent fitness, the study found," Lukits writes.

I have to admit, I don't exercise -- and I doubt my husband does, either -- just to be a good example to Phillip.  I came late to exercise but I now run at least three miles a day every day, and in the summer, swim 32 laps (a half-mile) every day. If I don't get my run, I'm cranky and irritable and my day just doesn't go right.  I feel so bad that my son is missing out on this but then, how can you miss it if you never did it?

He was 'way more active in elementary school and I guess the teenage years are different.  There are so many other things on an adolescent's mind.  I'm not talking about that!

Still, I wish we could somehow induce him to exercise.  At this age there's of course no coercing.  I worry that he won't have friends if he's not on a middle or high school team of some sort.  But I'm hoping somewhere down the line, it will come to him that exercise isn't all working hard until you drop, but  something that's not only good for your body, but for your soul, too.


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