The available research information suggests, then, that the best primary strategy for improving the longterm health of children and adolescents through exercise may be creating a lifestyle pattern of regular physical activity that will carry over to the adult years rather than promoting childhood physical fitness.26 This implies that it is of primary importance to discover behavioral approaches that will be effective in increasing activity levels of children. It is an approach that raises critical questions in future research efforts: What are the factors that make exercise enjoyable for children? What settings (family, school physical education, physicians, community programs) are most effective in "turning children on" to physical activity? How can interest in exercise be sustained as children grow into adulthood? Furthermore, this conclusion bears implications for the design of physical education curricula, the role of families in the early molding of exercise habits, and the important function of physicians in identifying sedentary patients and introducing them to the fun of physical activity.
This viewpoint does not assume the importance for children of a critical threshold of activity or fitness. Instead, it emphasizes the significance of establishing a physically active lifestyle during the pediatric years; this is best achieved by exposing children to the enjoyment of physical exercise early. This strategy is based on the concept that health outcomes may relate more to the persistence of exercise throughout life rather than its quantity during the pediatric years.