How to make your future self thank you

By | Health & Wellness
A new report shows the importance of adopting healthy attitudes, showing that initial changes show benefits almost two decades later. Credit image@ epSos .de, flickr.com

Engaging in any form of sports and ensuring a healthy, balanced diet are some of the most productive ways of transforming your body: be it in gaining strength, speed, cardiovascular health or all-round physical and mental well-being. However, it would seem that partaking in such a lifestyle has a much longer-lasting effect.

New research has shed light on how important initial healthy habits are on our future selves, reports a German team composed of scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Technische Universität München, and the universities of Konstanz and Bayreuth.

A long-term survey of five hundred adults, examined how their health habits acquired in the past affected their long term health, with the team asking whether initial behaviour had an effect, if any, on their well-being almost two decades later.

The researchers published their report in the scientific journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise.

This longitudinal study, where repeated variables are observed over a period of time, was designed on the medical examinations and self-ratings of their test participants.

In order to assess the impacts of the participant’s health habits, the study revolved around a four-stage biopsychological model, allowing the researchers to note any interactions between various health factors. The model is based on four levels, the first being environmentally related factors like socioeconomic status.

The second tier involved more personal components, such as stress management strategies, whilst the third revolved around behavioural aspects like eating habits and smoking. Finally, fitness and health brought up the rear guard, completing the four-stage model.

In order to understand the rapport between these factors and physical well-being and health, the researchers used a municipal survey produced by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology between 1992 and 2010, examining a randomly selected group made up of 243 women and 252 men from the municipality of Bad Schönborn in Germany.

On four separate occasions the test subjects filled out a variety of questionnaires, whilst also being asked to undergo several health and fitness tests.

Statistical analysis showed that variables from all four levels of the biopsychological model had an impact on the physical health and fitness of the participants in 1992, whether it be direct or indirect, particularly as a result of factors related to socioeconomic background, how the individual managed under certain conditions, as well as nutritional and fitness related habits.

Importantly however, initial food intake and fitness regimes were shown to have a significant effect on the fitness levels of the participants, eighteen years later.

Speaking during the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology press release of the team’s findings, Professor Alexander Woll explained just how important developing positive habits as soon as possible are: “The results of our study reveal how important it is to acquire health-promoting habits at early adult age already. This should also be in the focus of prevention measures”.

The results also showed that adults that started the study with higher levels of health remained healthy for much longer than their counterparts.

Thus, by making simple changes in life, whether it be joining the local gym or sports team, and substituting various food groups for other, more healthy varieties, means our future selves can thank us for the choices we make today.

How will this report influence your day-to-day lifestyle?

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