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Exercising as a kid may promote good fitness habits in adulthood

Obesity is a leading health concern, which now affect one in three adults in the United States. Can encouraging children to exercise increase their propensity to become active adults? A team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside did experiments on mice in the lab to answer that question.

The researchers ran experiments on male mice, half of which were bred for high voluntary wheel running (high runners), the rest serving as the controls. Half of the mice were allowed access to a running wheel in their early life and then the wheel was removed until they reached adulthood. Then, the adult mice were again given access to the running.

Researchers found that exercise in young mice was linked to voluntary exercise and lower body mass after they became adults. These effects were found in both the runner and the control mice. Study results appear online in Physiology & Behavior.

This study gives another reason that children should engage in regular exercise. Not only does childhood exercise help kids become more athletic and stronger, but it may instill an exercise habit for later life. The study findings may have relevance for public policy debates concerning the importance of physical education for children.

The majority of the nation’s children and teens are not getting the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise. While the majority younger children exercise daily, only 29 percent of high school students do so, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Exercise among children and teens offer numerous benefits, according to the CDC. Children who exercise have better strength and endurance, higher self-esteem, lower anxiety, and better weight control. Obesity, which is associated with inactivity and poor nutrition, may cause health problems in later life.

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