Thrive by IU Health

September 21, 2021

What's the key to an active life? Start early

What's the key to an active life? Start early

Some people believe the most important things in life are learned by age 10. Author Robert Fulghum even wrote a book about it – “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

What children are taught, including the lifestyle and environment they’re exposed to, has an impact the rest of their lives. This holds true for healthy habits like exercise and eating nutritious foods.

Parents who value daily physical activity are more likely to encourage their children to play sports and stay active. For these parents, family time is often enjoyed with fitness-based activities, such as trips to the park, hiking, biking and swimming. As these children grow into adolescence and adulthood, they’ll likely continue to appreciate and engage in these activities because they’ve become part of their core values.

So, how important is it to teach children the significance of physical activity and model this behavior as they grow up?

We know that making exercise and fitness a fundamental part of life contributes to good health in a variety of ways. Regular exercise reduces the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. It helps prevent obesity and counteracts some of the effects of aging. It lowers blood pressure and improves the immune system. It also elevates mood and boosts self-esteem.

When it comes to health, setting good examples for children has long-term benefits. Chances are good that children who are taught the importance of healthy living will make good choices and continue to manage their health and life in productive ways through adulthood.

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