The physical activity level of mothers (with children  younger than 18 years old) has been steadily decreasing over the past 50 years. Mothers today are a third less active compared to mothers in the 1960’s. This sobering news comes from an article published in the December Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Not only are moms less physically active than their predecessors, but they have also increased the amount of time spent in sedentary activities….by 40%! Today’s mothers are spending about 12 1/2 hours less per week engaged in physical activity, and 7 hours more per week on sedentary activity than mothers in the 1960’s.

Mothers with children younger than 5, have the biggest decrease in activity levels. Stay-at-home moms have almost 2 times the decrease in physical activity as working mothers, and higher rates of sedentary activity. Researchers concluded that today’s generation of mothers are less physically active because of their increasing use of “screen-based media”. Think about that. As technology has made it easier to access media (watch TV, listen to music, e-mail, etc.) and more mobile (believe it or not, phones and TV’s used to be attached to walls), people have become less active.

The take home message of the article is: “with each passing generation, mothers have become increasingly physically inactive, sedentary, and obese, thereby potentially predisposing children to an increased risk of inactivity, adiposity (getting fat), and chronic [noncommunicable diseases].”

Obesity, in the United States, has increased over 50% in the past 40 years. Reducing obesity starts at home. Many studies show that parents who lead a physically active lifestyle tend to have children who are physically active and are less likely to become obese.  Moms, encourage your children to increase their activity level by being a role model.