Posted on by Paula Gallagher
Now more than ever, it is important to move and get healthy. New research shows that eating a healthy diet in childhood and getting enough exercise can form bigger brains in adulthood and lower anxiety. The study completed by the University of California, Riverside, has shown that childhood diet and exercise play a large part in creating a healthier, and less anxious adult. We know that children need to eat healthily, and get out and move their bodies. It is vital for their health and development. But, now it seems that eating well and exercising could play a large part in a child’s mental health when they are older.
The researchers also highlighted the importance of healthy diet and exercising right now, while the world is still coping with the pandemic. It may be more important now than it ever has been for children to have healthy habits.
Aside from perhaps being indicative of how kids with these two good habits will cope with stressors as adults, there are even more reasons to encourage healthy foods and moving more.
4 More Benefits of Exercise and Healthy Eating in Children
1. Reducing Mild Inflammation
One study has shown that increased physical activity can reduce inflammation in children. Physical activity became even more important when it was also found that diet quality wasn't the sole factor for inflammation in children.
Low-grade inflammation in children can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease. Childhood obesity and being overweight can also contribute to inflammation, so more physical activity can help reduce this risk.
The study showed that children who were more physically active had a healthier inflammatory health profile when compared to children who were physically less active. While they found that poor diet does not play a role independently, it can be a factor. They were able to profile what the most “unhealthy” lifestyle for a child would look like and they found that children who had the lowest amount of physical activity, poorest diet quality, as well as the highest percentage of body fat, were at the highest risk.
2. Improving Cardiovascular Health
Studies have shown that the more active a child is, the better their cardiovascular health is. Not only that, but aerobic exercise may reduce the long-term health risks of childhood obesity and reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome in early adulthood by 36%, compared to those with lower childhood fitness levels.
3. Better Test Scores
Research has shown that kids who get more physical activity do better in school than children who don’t. Studies have looked at the link between of exercise and mental performance and many have found students who exercise more score higher on math, language and memory tests.
4. Lessening Anxiety Right Now
Eating healthy and exercising as a child may help with anxiety as an adult, but it can also help the child right now. Exercise can help control the stress that shows up as anxiety, or any stress at all for that matter. Movement reduces nervous tension and anxiety in muscles. Exercise has been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as boost self-image, cognitive functioning and social skills.
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