Childhood exercise impacts adult health
A team of researchers from the University of California, Riverside, set out to determine how exercise habits at a young age impact adult physical activity, body mass, food consumption and circulating leptin levels (all indicators of physical health).
The study was conducted on male mice. Half of the mice were bred for “high voluntary wheel running,” meaning they were bred to enjoy running. The other mice were a control group. Half of the high running group and half of the control group were allowed access to a wheel when they were 24 days old and this access lasted for 21 days, which is approximately the period when mice go through puberty.
After the three weeks of access to the wheel, the wheel was removed for seven weeks. Then, the wheel was returned to all mice, including both the ones who were given wheel access at a young age and the ones who weren’t. Those who had experienced the wheel at a young age ran significantly more as adults than mice who hadn’t had the opportunity to run at a young age. The mice which had early access to the wheel also weighed less than the other mice.
Researchers have viewed their findings as support for the importance of emphasis on early childhood exercise programs, within and outside of school systems, to encourage the development of long lasting healthy habits.