Washington: Men who play sports in high school are more active and healthy in old age, a new study has found.
Scientists found that 70 year olds who don`t frequently visit the doctor have something unexpected in common - most played high school sports.
The new study looked at what factors of behaviour, background, and personality impact the healthfulness of men over 70.
The study was conducted by researchers Brian Wansink of Cornell University`s Food and Brand Lab and Simone Dohle of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich.
The study tracked 712 World War II veterans who were healthy as young men - they had passed a rigorous physical exam when being screened for the military - and surveyed them 50 years later at average of 78 years.
The most surprising result was that those who had played a high school sport in the 1930s or early 1940s, reported visiting their doctor fewer times a year.
Also, the best predictor of whether a healthy young man would regularly exercise 50 years later was simply whether he had played a team or individual sport in high school.
Many of those who played a high school sport were still active compared to those who didn`t.
The results emphasise the necessity of encouraging youths to regularly engage in athletic programmes and other exercise activities such as swimming or dance, researchers said.
The study was published in journal BMC Public Health.