Active Kids Make Healthier Adults

Exercise in childhood may reduce health costs in adulthood

(RxWiki News) Even a small increase in the number of kids who get regular exercise could help keep kids healthier into adulthood and save billions in medical costs, a new study found.

The authors of this study used a computer model with data from a national survey and a statistics agency. They found that increasing the number of kids between the ages of 8 and 11 who exercise for 25 minutes three times a week from 32 to 50 percent could save $21.9 billion in medical costs and lost productivity throughout their lives.

"Physical activity not only makes kids feel better and helps them develop healthy habits, it's also good for the nation's bottom line," said lead study author Dr. Bruce Y. Lee, executive director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School, in a press release. "Our findings show that encouraging exercise and investing in physical activity such as school recess and youth sports leagues when kids are young pays big dividends as they grow up."

Small increases in the number of kids who exercise regularly would also help reduce the number of obese and overweight youth, these researchers found. The study authors also noted that exercise can have benefits beyond maintaining a healthy weight, such as improved muscle mass, bone density and mental health.

Based on their findings, the study authors called for more focus on programs to improve kids' activity levels.

Talk to your child's health care professional about how to safely encourage an active lifestyle.

This study was published in the journal Health Affairs.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality funded this research. Information on potential conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.

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Review Date: 
May 16, 2017