Exercise and healthy diet in childhood 'leads to less anxious adults'

·1-min read

Exercise and a healthy diet in childhood lead to adults who have lower levels of anxiety, a new study has suggested.

Researchers from the University of California discovered that regular exercise and well-rounded diets were key to long-lasting health and wellbeing benefits, as well as bigger brains.

The team of scientists conducted their experiments on mice and determined that exercise early on in life reduced anxious behaviours later in life, and also led to an increase in adult muscle and brain mass.

But when fed diets high in fat and sugar, the mice not only put on weight but also grew into adults that preferred unhealthy foods.

And early life exercise led to a higher amount of the hormone leptin, which helps control body weight, despite the diet the mice ate.

The team previously discovered that eating too much fat and sugar as a child can alter the microbiome in the human body for life, and now they plan on combining both studies to investigate if either fat or sugar is more responsible for long-term negative effects.

"During the COVID-19 lockdowns, particularly in the early months, kids got very little exercise. For many without access to a park or a backyard, school was their only source of physical activity. It is important we find solutions for these kids, possibly including extra attention as they grow into adults," study leader Marcell Cadney explained.

Cadney said children who have these challenges may face "unique physical and mental health issues" later in life.