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Pennsylvania boy prepares for marathon in Antarctica 

Running a marathon is one of the most challenging athletic endeavors there is. The 26.2 mile race is a significant achievement for runners of any age, which is what makes 9-year-old Nikolas Toocheck's story so impressive. The youngster recently began a quest to run a marathon on every continent when he completed his first race in Delaware in December, and he is currently working his way to participating in an upcoming marathon in Antarctica, reports ABC News. 

Even at such a young age, Toocheck is no stranger to running, whether it's at the track, around the neighborhood or on a treadmill. His parents say he's always been very active, and given that his father is an avid runner, it's no surprise that Toocheck has followed suit. Even though he loves running more than the average 9-year-old, Toocheck has not taken the challenge lightly. Along with meeting with doctors to discuss his heart health, Toocheck and his parents have planned out every inch of his training including what he eats and how much recovery time he gets.

"The point is the kid is having fun and he wants to do it," his mother, Tara, told ABC News. "He's happy as can be. He's having fun and he's running most every step with his dad."

Toocheck's quest isn't all about running - he is also lacing up his shoes for a good cause. The fourth grader is running to raise money for Operation Warm, a charity launched by his grandfather to help children in need.

While not everyone needs to run a marathon to stay healthy, the young Pennsylvania native is certainly setting a good example for other youngsters. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children between 6 and 17 should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity, whether it's playing soccer, softball or hopping on a used treadmill.

Aside from the physical benefits of getting plenty of exercise, there are other advantages to staying active. For instance, playing team sports helps youngsters form social bonds, while any amount of physical activity could improve children's performance in school. In fact, a review of previously conducted studies found that there was a correlation between  having more time for physical education and an improvement on test scores, according to Reuters Health.

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