We’ve heard that children are less physically active than their parents were, but now research shows that mothers are less physically active than their mothers were 45 years ago as well. According to a new study by the Mayo Clinic, today’s mothers are reallocating their time from physical activity (housework, laundry, child care, meal prep, and exercise) to sedentary activity (driving, using screen-based media).
This reallocation of time is significant. According to the study, from 1965 to 2010, the time allocated to physical activity decreased by 11.1 hours a week from 32 to 20.9 in mothers of older children (5 to 18 years old) and by 13.9 hours a week from 43.6 to 29.7 in mothers of young children (under 5).
The time spent being sedentary increased by 7 hours a week in mothers of older children, from 17.7 to 24.7 hours a week, and 5.7 hours a week in mothers with young children, from 17 to 22.7 hours a week.
The researchers point out that a lack of enough physical activity leads to obesity and chronic diseases, and that it is a leading cause of death in our country and other developed nations. Physical activity is a prerequisite to health and wellness, and how we spend our time makes a significant difference in our overall health.
It should also be pointed out that parents are the most important role models to their children, and that children model their behavior. If mothers are spending more time being sedentary than physically active, our children will likely follow suit.