Exercise in Early Life Has Long Lasting Benefits


Exercise is thought of as a necessary evil to many who find it hard to squeeze an hour of physical activity into their already hectic schedules. Exercise is too often thought of as something that should be started later in life to combat extra weight gain, but a study conducted at the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland has revealed that the earlier exercise begins, the better the long-lasting benefits on the body.

Researchers at the Liggins Institute used rats as their test subjects in three different scenarios:

  • Scenario One: High fat diet and an exercise wheel for additional activity
  • Scenario Two: High fat diet with no exercise wheel
  • Scenario Three: Regular diet and no wheel

The research team was looking at bone health and metabolism in each of their test subjects and found that the implementation of exercise into the routine at an early stage actually changed the way the rats’ bones metabolized energy from food. They also found that the change in metabolism lasted the rats into their mid-life. This change decreased the rats’ risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases despite the high caloric intake. Dr. Justin O’Sullivan, a molecular geneticist at the Institute, summed it up, “”The bone marrow carried a ‘memory’ of the effects of exercise. This is the first demonstration of a long-lasting effect of exercise past puberty. The rats still got fat, but that early extra exercise basically set them up so that even though they put on weight they didn’t have the same profile of negative effects that is common with a high fat diet.”

All of the research conducted in this study shows that exercise is not a reactive measure to be taken in an effort to combat extra poundage. Exercise is, instead, a proactive measure that should be taken beginning in adolescence to offset any poor diet choices or sloth behavior that could rest in the future.

Children should be subjected to physical activity at an early age to teach them how important exercise is and to train their bodies to metabolize food in better ways to decrease their risk of various diseases.