Exercise during adolescence has long term health benefits for women

December 21, 2015

Exercise, such as martial arts, during adolescence can have health benefits later in life.

For some parents, it may be time to start talking to their teen daughters about developing an exercise routine, as regular physical activity can prolong their lives. According to a recent study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, women who exercised or played sports frequently as teenagers were less likely to die from cancer or other disease in the future.

The study, which involved 75,000 women from Shanghai, China, who were between the ages of 40 and 70, found that women who worked out just 1.3 hours a week as adolescents experienced physical benefits as they got older. In fact, women who were active in their younger days had a 16 percent lower risk of dying from cancer and a 15 percent decreased risk of death from other diseases.

“The main finding is that exercise during adolescence is associated with a reduced risk of mortality, or death, in middle aged to older women,” Sarah J. Nechuta, an assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tennessee, said in an interview, according to Reuters.

The researchers explained that exercise helped prolong lives by reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, boosting immune system function and decreasing insulin inflammatory factors.

Nechuta isn’t sure if these results also apply to men, but Alpa Patel, strategic director of the American Cancer Society’s cancer prevention study, said that there’s no reason why men wouldn’t gain the same health benefits from working out during their teen years.

Patel explained the research just proves starting healthy habits early in life can reduce the risk of disease later on.

Martial arts is a great exercise for teens
If your teen is having trouble deciding on a physical activity, have her try martial arts. According to the United Studios of Defense, this sport can increase muscular strength, reduce blood pressure, improve flexibility and even lower body fat. Martial arts also provides several mental benefits, including improved focus, higher self-confidence and more discipline.

Visit a local martial arts studio and have your teen take a few classes to see if she likes it or not. The sport might seem a little intimidating at first, but if your teen practices with an experienced instructor, she will get the hang of it in no time.