Exercise in childhood days helps not only to lose weight later but also positively impacts the willingness for exercise in adulthood.
"These results may have implications for the importance of regular physical education in elementary and middle schools," said lead author Theodore Garland, professor of biology in the University of California, Riverside.
"If kids exercise regularly through the school years then they may be more likely to exercise as adults which could have far reaching positive effects on human health and well being."
"Modest levels of exercise can perhaps lower body mass without necessarily triggering homeostatic compensatory responses in food intake. If this relationship exists in humans it could prove of value for ultimately determining recommended daily exercise criteria," Garland said.
The researchers conducted their experiments on male mice, half of which were selectively bred for high voluntary wheel running (high runners) with the rest serving as the control.
Half of the high runners and half of the control mice were allowed wheel access when they were about 24 days old for a total of 21 days while the rest of the mice were given no wheel access.
After three weeks, the researchers removed the wheels for seven weeks and then gave all the mice wheel access for about two weeks.
They found increased adult wheel running on both the high runners and the control lines of mice during the first of the two weeks of adult testing.
"Although the positive effect of early life exercise lasted for only one week, it is important to note that one week in the life of a mouse is equivalent to about nine months for humans," Garland said.
The study appeared online in Physiology & Behavior