Physically Active Children Grow Up to Be Healthier Adults

May 27, 2021

Children and young adults who exercise regularly are more likely to seek physical activity and fitness throughout their lifespan. Recent human and animal studies have discovered that regular exercise in childhood and adolescence increases the odds of staying physically active and healthy during adulthood.

A 2014 study of World War II veterans found that the single strongest predictor of well-being in later life was whether someone played a varsity sport in high school. Across the board, people who had played a high school sport reported visiting the doctor fewer times annually throughout their lifespan.

The researchers followed 712 World War II veterans who were healthy as young men and surveyed them 50 years later at an average age of 78. The study , “Fit in 50 Years,” was published in BMC Public Health .

Regular Exercise and Openness to Experience Are Intertwined

The researchers wanted to identify the personality traits that lead to staying healthy and fit throughout a lifespan. They looked at how different behaviors, backgrounds, and personality traits impacted the healthfulness of men when they were over 70 years of age.

The primary aim of this study was to identify what type of background or personality characteristics could predict whether a healthy 25-year-old was likely to be a physically active and healthy 75-year-old.

Of all the traits in the Five Factor Model, the researchers found that ” openness to experience ” was most strongly linked to an inclination to participate in athletics and remain physically active by age 75. Maintaining an adventurous mindset was associated with remaining physically active in old age.

In order to develop effective public health policies and interventions that increase physical activity for people of all ages, it’s important to understand the factors that lead to both increased physical activity and sedentary behavior throughout generations. The researchers are hopeful that their findings will inspire people of all ages to stay physically active.

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