Mothers are always the first potentially powerful female role model for their daughters, researchers have found.
"The daughters' beliefs and behaviors may stem directly from those of their mothers," said study co-author Alyce Barnes, education researcher at the University of Newcastle in Australia.
Importantly, the study has shown that mothers have an important influence on their daughter's physical activity in relation to their parenting for physical activity and behaviors.
To understand better how moms influence their daughters' physical activity, the team looked at mother-daughter pairs who had enrolled in a trial of a physical activity intervention.
The daughters with more active mothers were physically more active themselves.
The mothers also reported the time they spent in sedentary activities, as well as the time their daughters spent being sedentary and doing screen time during a typical week.
Daughters whose mothers had strong beliefs about the benefits of regular exercise spent more time doing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, the researchers found.
The only factor associated with daughters' screen time was mothers' sedentary activity.
"It is important for mothers to lead by example and engage in active pursuits rather than sedentary behaviors such as sitting engaging in small screen recreation (television, computer and tablet use)," Barnes was quoted as saying in a Live Science report.
Outlined in Maternal and Child Health Journal
, the research shows that at every age, girls and women are less active than boys and men, and the activity gap increases with age.