A new study reveals the importance of exercising and playing team sports during the adolescent years, as the effects are beneficial for the long-term, especially for women.
Researchers discovered that women who exercised when they were younger had a reduced risk of developing cancer later in life or dying from serious diseases. Analyses showed that being active for only 1.3 hours a week during formative years had an immense positive effect as they got older.
Leading author of the study Sarah J. Nechuta, an assistant professor lecturing at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center and in Nashville, said in a recent interview that the most important discovery of this research is that being physically active during teenage years is linked with a decreased risk of death in middle aged to older women.
Women who played team sports or exercised in their teens were found to have a 16 percent lower risk of early death or dying from cancer. Nechuta emphasized that the study’s results encourage and promote exercising during adolescence, supporting the need to initiate a disease-prevention mentality early on in life.
Published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the study was conducted by Wei Zheng at the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center; the results are based on data collected from 75,000 women from Shanghai, China – but this doesn’t mean the benefits of exercising during adolescent years are not applicable to all women.
Nechuta pointed out that there’s no reason why exercising wouldn’t have the same effect on women, regardless of cultural or ethnic background. Back on 1996 when the study started, the participants were women aged 40 to 70 years old, and the follow-up period was of 13 years.
Researchers interviewed them about several lifestyle factors and how active they were during their teens. In the follow-up years, 5,282 women died – 2,375 of whom were victims of cancer, and 1,620 died from cardiovascular disease.
Data analysis showed that women who were active in their teens had a 20 percent reduced risk of death from all causes when they got older. Even though researchers did not ask about the type of exercise performed, it turned out that women who played team sports had a 10 percent lower risk of death from all causes.
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