Physical Activity Strengthens Arteries in Children

Regular moderate to vigorous physical activity are found to lower arterial stiffness in 6 to 8-year-old children. This is according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. There is no similar finding for light physical activity.

Published in Pediatric Exercise Science, the study shows that increased arterial stiffness which indicates the development of cardiovascular disease can begin early in childhood. The study, a joint effort of researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and researchers from the University of Cambridge, aims to explore the effects of physical activity to the heart conditions of children. It is also applicable in increasing awareness of ways to prevent cardiovascular diseases as earliest as possible.

The study objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time among 136 Finnish 6-8-year-old children and cross-check it with arterial strength. These were assessed using a combined heart rate and movement sensor. Various variables such as diet quality, body fat percentage and sleep pattern were controlled in the analyses.

The results show that children with less moderate-to-vigorous daily exercise had stiffer arteries. On the other hand, children with more vigorous physical activity show less arterial stiffness. Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity include games that involve running, ball games, gymnastics and dance, the Science Daily reports.

In conclusion, researchers write that arterial stiffness were due to light activity and sedentary lifestyle. In order to have strong arteries, and less likelihood for heart diseases later on in life, researchers recommend structuring vigorous exercises for kids. Lack of or less exercise is found to be highly contributory to raised risks for heart issues.

According to the News Medical, children need diverse activities daily with at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Parents should make sure to make exercise a habit for kids in order to ensure healthy arteries. "It seems that the positive effects of physical activity on arterial stiffness require sufficient cardiovascular strain," Dr. Eero Haapala, from the University of Eastern Finland, says in conclusion of the study.

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