Participating in physical education at school will not only help you keep fit in your youth, but also in adulthood, reveals a new study that states the practice could be a long-lasting solution to adult obesity.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study, in which they found that for each weekday of physical education at school the odds of being an overweight adult decreased by 5 percent. Participation in all five days of physical education decreased the odds of being an overweight adult by 28 percent.
"These findings underscore the important role that school-based and extracurricular physical activities play in reducing the likelihood of becoming an overweight adult," said Robert Wm. Blum, MD, MPH, PhD, the study's senior author.
"While physical education was not a good weight-loss mechanism over time, it appears to have a positive impact in helping teenagers maintain a healthy weight into young adulthood," he added.
The researchers studied 3,345 teens in grades eight through 12 who took part in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health at which time the teens were surveyed on their participation in physical education and physical activities outside of school.
The team then followed up with the participants five years after leaving school to check their height and weight.
The findings showed that increased participation in physical education and certain extracurricular physical activities decreased the likelihood of being overweight as an adult.
It was also found that the likelihood of being an overweight adult was most reduced among teens who participated in wheel-related extracurricular activities, such as rollerblading, biking or skate-boarding more than 4 times per week.
And these teens were more than twice as likely to maintain a normal weight as adults compared to their less active peers. However, no impact was detected when physical activities were performed fewer than three times per week.
"School-based physical education could be a low-cost strategy and a long-lasting solution to adult obesity," said Blum.
The study is published in the January 2008 edition of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.