Playing youth sports contributes to long-term health

Playing a sport in high school may have health benefits well beyond graduation, a new study found.

Those who played varsity sports were found to remain active decades later, and that resulted in better health and improved mental well being as a senior, according to the study, Fit in 50 Years, published in BMC Public Health. 

The study followed 712 World War II veterans who passed a rigorous physican exam by the military. Their health was surveyed 50 years later.

“The most surprising result was those who played a high school sport reported visiting their doctor fewer times a year,” said Simone Dohle of ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in a statement. He worked with  said. He conducted the study with Brian Wansink of Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab.

“We found that many of those who were active on a team over 50 years ago are more likely to be active into their late 70s and as a result have overall better health,” Wansink said in a statement.

The benefits of exercise are widely known, but the researchers noted that American youths are often inactive and suffer from obesity and related health problems. They also say the study shows how that physical activity benefits people well beyound their youth sport days.

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