CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A healthy body helps to keep a healthy mind and experts say that statement is even more true when it comes to kids. A new U of I study looks at the benefits of introducing exercise early, but teachers say it’s not that easy.

“All the kids sat around on their couch, stayed home. They played games, they didn’t get out, they didn’t join their teams that they normally would join,” said John Lubinski, the Potomac Grade School PE teacher.

He’s said covid affected children’s activity levels through video games and social media. The U of I study says 80% of adolescents across the world aren’t active. In the US, it’s 76%.

“My goal is to start them young, so everything that I do from kindergarten to eighth grade builds up into a more physical lifestyle,” said Lubinski.

The study suggests that more intense physical activity at a young age could have lifelong impacts. It can lead to better academic success and impulse control, even lessening the chance of being convicted of a crime.

“They can learn how to work out, keep themselves healthy now, and they can do it until the day they’re 80-85 years old,” said Candy Franzen,  Armstrong high school PE teacher.

She says the challenges don’t go away with age, but by starting the leg work early, they are easier to work with.

“I try to incorporate because they’re high school kids and they love social media, but I try it make it so they have apps for physical fitness,” said Franzen, “So, they can kind of keep track on their own and make it more of a habit a good habit than just being on their phone and playing games.”

Like in the study, Franzen said she sees firsthand how students who are active compared to those who are not. They’re more confident, engaged, and focused.

“I think the more active we are as a group, the better it’s going to be for everyone involved,” added Franzen.

They both say the best way to get children active is to lead by example. It can be as simple as a bike ride or even a walk.