(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Kids can pass a lot of things around to each other — germs, colds, a bad case of the giggles. Now, new research suggests that their activity levels, too, may be contagious.
A study from Vanderbilt University found that when children have friends that are more active, they themselves are also likely to be more active.
Moreover, when children have close friends that regularly engage in vigorous activity they will try to keep up.
Eighty-one children between the ages of 5 and 12 were enrolled in two afterschool programs and followed over 12 weeks. During that time children were asked with whom they were friends, and their level of activity was measured using a device called an accelerometer.
The findings showed that when kids were playing with others who had higher level of activity, they were more likely to increase their own levels of physical activity.
“They have conducted hundreds of trials across the nation that has not changed kids eating behavior,” said Sabina Gesell, professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn. and lead study author.
“We needed a new novel approach… In order to move our intervention against obesity to a new level,” Gesell said. “Now we have the evidence to move forward.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio