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Fit parents are more likely to have fit children: Statistics Canada

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Do fit kids have fit parents? Yes.

That’s according to a study published by Statistics Canada on Wednesday that found a direct correlation between the fitness levels of Canadian children and their parents.

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“Essentially we found that there was a trend for all children that as the parent’s fitness increased, the child was more likely to have a higher level of fitness,” said Rachel Colley, study author and senior research analyst at Statistics Canada.

The study looked at a sample representative of children aged 6 to 11 years and their biological parents, and analyzed aerobic fitness – the ability of the heart and lungs to engage in exercise — muscular strength and flexibility.

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The correlation in cardiorespiratory fitness was only seen significantly in mother-and-son pairs, while a significant flexibility correlation was only seen in mother-son and father-son pairings.

Boys whose parent had “excellent” cardiorespiratory fitness had better cardiorespiratory fitness than boys whose parent had a “poor” cardiorespiratory fitness level.

Girls whose parent had “excellent” flexibility had higher flexibility than girls whose parent had “poor” flexibility.

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Grip strength was associated in all duos except father-son pairings.

Colley said parental genes, schooling, role modelling as well as the household environment could influence the fitness levels of a child.

“The physical activity of a child is affected by … the school they go to, the household they grow up in and what their parents engage them in,” she told Global News.

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Colley said both parents have a role to play in encouraging healthy lifestyle behaviours, even if they are not into sports themselves.

“Just because you’re not super athletic or super interested doesn’t mean you can’t encourage and support healthy lifestyle behaviours in your children,” she said.

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Many professional athletes tend to follow their parents’ footsteps and pick up the same sport that their parents play.

Canada’s top men’s tennis player Denis Shapovalov is just one example. He has been coached by his mother, Tessa Shapovalova, since the age of five.

According to Statistics Canada, the physical fitness of Canadian children has remained relatively stable from 2007 to 2017.

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— With files from the Canadian Press