Harder Exercise Tied to Lower Heart Risk in Kids

September 11, 2012

Attend the Manitoba Diabetes Forum on Thursday, September 13 at the University of Winnipeg to hear from the Manitoba Institute of Child Health's Dream Theme:

Vigorous physical activity -- as opposed to less-intense exercise -- appears to be key in reducing cardiometabolic risk in children and teens, researchers found.

Body mass index z score and waist circumference declined and cardiorespiratory fitness improved with increasing amounts of vigorous physical activity (P<0.001 for all), according to Jonathan McGavock, PhD, of the Manitoba Institute of Child Health in Winnipeg, and colleagues.

In addition, the percentage of children and teens with high systolic blood pressure declined from 20.2% in the lowest tertile of vigorous activity (an average of 1.39 minutes per day) to 8% in the top tertile (an average of 8.74 minutes per day), the researchers reported online in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Less-intense activity was not consistently associated with the various risk factors.

"These data support the concept that vigorous types of physical activity should be encouraged to reduce cardiometabolic risk factors in youth," McGavock and colleagues wrote. "The current targets for physical activity in youth may need to be re-examined and the inclusion of specific targets for vigorous physical activity emphasized."

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