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Pressuring Your Kid to Be Active May Have the Opposite Result

A child who feels in control of his physical activity is more likely to exercise, a new study says.

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If your child feels that he's being pressured into exercising, he is less likely to be physically active, new research says.

The study, published in this month's issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that middle school students who don't feel in control of their exercise choices are typically less active.

Researchers also found that those kids who felt in control of their activity were more likely to see themselves as someone who exercises, making them more inclined to exercise.

Conducted by the University of Georgia, the study focused on this age group because it's an especially critical time for exercise. Kids typically decrease their activity levels by 50 percent between fifth and sixth grades, said lead author Rod Dishman in the study's news release.

Next, researchers plan to find ways to help younger children identify themselves as someone who exercises, so they'll be more likely to continue an active lifestyle in middle school and beyond.

"Just like there are kids who are drawn to music and art, there are kids who are drawn to physical activity," Dishman said. "But what you want is to draw those kids who otherwise might not be drawn to an activity."

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter:@CAITYstjohn.

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