Actually, it’s not as big a no-brainer as it sounds. Researchers at the University of Iowa have found that kids who are active at a young age struggle less with obesity even if they don’t maintain activity levels later in their childhood. Here’s some of the text from the release:
“We call this effect ‘banking’ because the kids benefit later on, similar to having a savings account at a bank. The protective effect is independent of what happens in between,” said lead author Kathleen Janz, professor of health and sport studies in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “The implication is that even 5-year-olds should be encouraged to be as active as possible because it pays off as they grow older.”
Essentially kids that are active as five-year-olds end up with less fat even when the researchers controlled their activity level later in life. Why this is a case is still up for debate.
“It may be possible that the active 5-year-olds didn’t develop as many fat cells, improved their insulin response, or that something happened metabolically that provided some protection even as they became less active.”
The researchers found that “banking” occurred more readily in boys, which is certainly interesting. The researchers point out that activity doesn’t mean a 60 minute jog, merely typically recess play. Overall though, the study just backs up what all of us have know for a long time — it’s better to be climbing trees or swimming in the lake than it is to be playing video games. Healthy habits begin at an early age and ultimately kids like playing outside. The paper is set to run in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
Thanks Steve for the heads up.
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