It's true - Children who exercise grow into healthier, more resilient adults March 08 2018
Scientists continue to find ways that exercise in childhood affects our health and wellbeing as adults - from professional success to better brains and less chance of obesity and cancer.
Childhood fitness can build better brains
Neuroscientists believe that increased physical activity in childhood affects the development of the structure and function of the child's brain, in particular memory, and the prefrontal cortex which is involved in our ability to think, reason and act on our thought rather than on impulse.
This is because cardio exercise increases the metabolic rate and this leads the brain to:
- build more capillaries for blood and oxygen transport, and
- increase the number of synapses between neurons, allowing for better communication between parts of the brain.
The research indicates that these benefits of exercising apply throughout our lifetimes as older people who exercise have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In fact scientists believe that exercise has psychological benefits for everyone - the difference is that during childhood and the teen years, the brain is quite literally being built in a way that will affect the person's entire life.
And, of course, childhood exercise and activity creates lifetime habits - fit active children are more likely to be fit active adults. Exercise boosts dopamine and serotonin, making people feel good about working out - but having fitness as part of normal childhood life means as adults we are more likely to seek out ways to be active too - because it is 'part of normal life'.
Fitness may actually be 'in your bones'
Research on bones has shown that exercise before puberty has long lasting effects that deliver health benefits even for adults who no longer exercise.
Professor Elwyn Firth works in the Depeartment of Exercise Sciences and explains that exercise in childhood changes gene expression “There are big differences in their bone mass, density and mineral content compared to those who haven’t done that exercise. Even if the exercise ceases in adulthood, these differences persist for 10 years or more, especially if the exercise began before puberty.”
Fitness is good for you even before you are born
Mothers who exercise during or before pregnancy pass on benefits through their blood and hormone levels which can improve the oxygen capacity, energy storage and muscle health of their newborn baby.
Can childhood activity impact how much a person achieves?
A Swedish study on 1.5 million men traced over three decades of their life, and found that cardio fitness in adolescence appears to result in better cognition in middle age. The researchers suggest that teenagers who exercise are more likely to have career success.
We're big believers in teaching our children well
There you have it. Scientists love fitness, and so do we. At Suna we completely believe that children who exercise grow into healthier adults, but we have an additional focus in our SunaFamily classes - Great posture. We believe that teaching children to exercise in the right posture and to understand good posture when they are young helps them exercising effectively, but in the long term, great posture in life reduces issues with bad backs, necks, knees etc - and these children are 'future-proofed' against these problems as they age. Lets teach our children good habits while they are young, that will last a life time and contribute to lifetime well-being.