Children who are fitter and whose fitness improves during childhood and adolescence have better lung function as young adults, according to a large study published in the European Respiratory Journal.
Good lung function in early adult life is believed to lower the risk of developing chronic lung disease later in life, but until now, there has been very little evidence that childhood fitness had any bearing on adult lung function.
Chronic lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are a leading cause of global ill health and, with an ageing population, this is projected to get worse. The new study provides early evidence that keeping children fit could help reduce the burden of lung disease in the future.
The results show that fitter children had better lung function and the more their fitness improved during childhood, the greater their lung capacity when they reached adulthood. The link between lung function and fitness remained after the researchers took account of factors such as height, weight, asthma, and smoking. The results also showed a stronger effect in boys than girls.
The better your lung function as a child, the better you’re protected against lung ageing in later life. It seems that regular sports in childhood and adolescence, ensuring development of peak exercise capacity, may be your lung-insurance for later.