Gym Class Memories Can Influence Adults' Exercise Habits: Study

Your memories of school gym class may affect your exercise habits today, according to a new study.

It included more than 1,000 men and women, ages 18-40, who completed an online questionnaire that asked them about their experiences in gym class as children and their current exercise habits, The New York Times reported.

People who didn't like gym class tended to say that they didn't expect to like exercise and did not plan to exercise in the coming days. Those who liked gym class were more likely to say that they expected exercise to be enjoyable and that they were active on weekends.

The study was published in the Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.

"It was a bit surprising just how strong people's memories were" of their gym classes, researcher Matthew Ladwig, a graduate student at Iowa State University, told The Times.

"For some of them, the classes were two or three decades in the past, but they had not forgotten," and their memories apparently continued to affect their current attitudes about exercise, he said.

The findings show that attitudes about exercise influence whether or not people are active, and changes to school gym classes may be needed in order to give youngsters a positive view about physical activity, according to Ladwig.

For example, "choose teams randomly" for group sports and downplay frequent fitness testing, which was recalled negatively by many study participants.

Ladwig also suggested eliminating competition among young children and promoting exercises such as dancing or yoga, and unconventional activities such as gardening, The Times reported.

"It would be great if P.E. classes could teach kids that moving is fun," Ladwig said.

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