Kids' Friends Influence Level Of Activity

Reported by: Lauren Gawthrop
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Updated: 5/30/2012 7:44 am
A new study finds a child's friends may play a big role in how much physical activity they get.

Vanderbilt University researchers studied 81 kids, ages 5 to 12, who were enrolled in a 12-week aftercare program.

They found that although children did not form or dissolve friendships based on physical activity levels, existing friendships heavily influenced their level of physical activity.

And the strongest influence on the amount of time children spent in moderate-to-vigorous activity was the activity level of their immediate friends.

Researchers say a child's activity level can be increased, decreased, or stabilized based on their immediate social network.

Experts say an active lifestyle starts at a very early age.

"You want to start promoting at a very early age. So, you want to start when they're toddlers, climbing the stairs, playing outside, you know, being active from an early age, but then also promoting it. So, giving them the opportunity to engage in those activities, going outside with them and engaging in those activities with them," said Kate Eshleman, Psy.D. Of Cleveland Clinic.

Complete findings for this study are in the journal "Pediatrics."
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