Vigorous physical activity = improved arterial health in kids
High levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity are associated with lower arterial stiffness in 6- to 8-year-old children, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland.
How important is that exercise being vigorous to reap benefits? No similar benefits were found to accompany light physical activity.
Examples of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity include games involving running, ball games, gymnastics and dance.
Published in Pediatric Exercise Science, the findings constitute part of the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study carried out in the University of Eastern Finland. The study was conducted in collaboration with the University of Cambridge.
Increased arterial stiffness indicative of the development of cardiovascular disease can begin already in childhood.
The study investigated the associations of objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time with arterial stiffness among 136 Finnish 6- to 8-year-old children.
Physical activity and sedentary time were assessed using a combined heart rate and movement sensor. Arterial stiffness was measured using pulse contour analysis based on photoplethysmography.
Various confounding factors including diet quality, body fat percentage and sleep length were controlled for in the analyses.
The study found that children with less moderate-to-vigorous daily physical activity had stiffer arteries.
"It seems that the positive effects of physical activity on arterial stiffness require sufficient cardiovascular strain, and light physical activity does not provide that kind of stimulus,” says Dr. Eero Haapala, from the University of Eastern Finland. “Moderate-to-vigorous exercise can also counterbalance the effects of sedentary time."
The study found that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was associated with better arterial health already in childhood. According to various exercise recommendations, children need diverse physical activity every day, and at least 60 minutes should be moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.
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