High school sports may be the key to long-term health

Playing high school sports could decrease how often you visit your doctor later in life, according to a new study titled "Fit in 50 Years."

Brian Wansick, from Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab, and Simone Dohle, from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, found that men who had been active on a sports team during youth were more likely to be fit and healthy into their late 70s - which also resulted in fewer doctor visits.

Study tracks veterans

The study tracked over 700 World War II veterans who had all been healthy as young men, having passed rigorous physical exams for the military. Surveying them 50 years later, the researchers were surprised to learn that those who had played high school sports reported visiting their doctors fewer times each year than those who didn't.

"The best predictor of whether a healthy young man would regularly exercise 50 years later was simply whether he had played a team or individual sport in high school," an article on Cornell's website stated. "Many of those who played a high school sport were still active compared to those who didn't."

Importance of physical activity

The study sheds light on how important physical activity programs are for youth, providing evidence that could help schools and youth centers understand the importance of having enough funding to carry out these programs.

"The results emphasize the necessity of encouraging youths to regularly engage in athletic programs and other exercise activities such as swimming or dance," the article stated.

The study is published in the journal BMC Public Health.

Source: Cornell University

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