Why Teen Girls Need to Exercise

Exercise in teen years tied to reduced risk of death from all causes in adult women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) If you needed another reason to get your teen daughter to drop the phone and get off the couch, here it is.

A new study found that women who exercised regularly as teens had a reduced risk of death in middle and old age — even if the women didn’t exercise regularly as adults.

"In women, adolescent exercise participation, regardless of adult exercise, was associated with reduced risk of cancer and all-cause mortality," wrote lead study author Sarah J. Nechuta, PhD, a professor at Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center in Nashville, TN, in a press release. "Our results support the importance of promoting exercise participation in adolescence to reduce mortality in later life and highlight the critical need for the initiation of disease prevention early in life."

Using data from the Shanghai Women's Health Study (an ongoing study on women's health), Dr. Nechuta and team looked at data on about 75,000 adult women from China who were recruited between 1997 and 2000.

These women reported their exercise participation between ages 13 and 19.

Dr. Nechuta and team also conducted interviews to collect data about current health-related issues, such as cancer.

In the 15 years after these women were recruited, 5,282 deaths occurred among these women.

Dr. Nechuta and team found that the women who had exercised less than 1.33 hours per week as teens had a 16 percent lower risk of death from cancer compared to the women who didn’t exercise at all as teens.

This group also had a 15 percent lower risk of death from all causes.

The women who exercised more than 1.33 hours per week as teens had a 13 percent lower risk for death from all causes, while the women who exercised both as teens and as adults had a 20 percent lower risk of death from all causes.

The authors noted that this study may contain errors because the women were recalling exercise at an earlier life stage. Lifestyle exercise, such as biking or walking to school, was also not included.

Patients should always speak to a doctor before starting a new exercise program.

This study was published in the July issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

The National Institutes of Health funded this research.

No conflicts of interest were disclosed.


Review Date: 
July 28, 2015
Last Updated:
August 3, 2015