April 25, 2017 By Elizabeth McCammon

There is an old saying, “As the twig is bent, so the tree is inclined.” It means early influences can have long-lasting effects, and the American College of Sports Medicine has the research to prove it.

In this international study published in the September 2016 issue of Medicine & Science in Exercise & Sports, researchers looked at 737 adults who had participated in fitness measurements when they were children. They measured the adults’ waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar (individuals with high levels of all these factors can develop metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes). They then looked at studies of these same individuals from 20 years earlier (when they were nine, 12, or 15 years old) that measured their muscle strength, endurance, and power.

The children with the highest muscular fitness also had a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome when they became adults—80 percent lower than those who had been less fit during childhood.

The findings are important not only because they suggest that childhood fitness could help predict future health (including the risk of developing type 2 diabetes) but also as a reminder of the importance of lifelong physical activity beginning at an early age.

Healthy food choices and regular physical activity may help children to maintain a healthy weight and prevent health problems, including type 2 diabetes. Read more from “Active Living for School-age Children” now.

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