"Get Up and Play an Hour a Day" is the motto of the Coalition for Healthy Children, but have you ever thought about the long term benefits of that hour?  Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, have found that increased physical activity in childhood has a positive effect on health and physical activity in adult years.

This study from June 2015, titled: "Effects of Early-Onset Voluntary Exercise on Adult Physical Activity and Associated Phenotypes in Mice," was originally published online in the journal Physiology & Behavior.  The purpose was to examine the effects of exercise in childhood and it's implications for adult exercise.  The researchers found that childhood exercise was a strong predictor for adult voluntary exercise, meaning that the more children exercised, the more likely they were to exercise voluntarily as adults.  Secondly, the researchers also found that the mice who exercised as juveniles maintained a lower weight in adulthood than those who didn't.

Theodore Garland, Jr, a professor of biology at UC Riverside commented on the importance of physical exercise in education:

"If kids exercise regularly through the school years, then they may be more likely to exercise as adults, which could have far-reaching positive effects on human health and well-being. Our results suggest that any positive effects of early-life exercise on adult exercise propensity will require reinforcement and maintenance if they are to be long-lasting."

This research is backed up furthermore by a longitudinal study published in 2014 which followed 712 WWII Veterans for 50 Years.  This study found:

...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.

These findings could prove critical in influencing public policy debating the importance of funding physical education for children.

Source: Psychology Today