Children, particularly boys, may need more than 1 hour per day of physical activity to protect against cardiovascular disease later in life, a recent study finds.
Children, particularly boys, may need more than 1 hour per day of physical activity to protect against cardiovascular disease (CVD) later in life, a recent study finds.
In fact, it seems that boys aged up to 6 years need at least 70 minutes per day, and those aged between 6 and 10 years need about 85 minutes per day. Although most girls can exercise about 60 minutes per day without increasing their CVD risk profile, at least 20 minutes of the total for all the groups should be vigorous.
Current exercise guidelines are based on what children aged older than 10 years need. This is the first study to look at what younger children require.
The information comes from the European Commission-sponsored project known as IDEFICS (Identification and Prevention of Dietary- and Lifestyle-Induced Health Effects in Children and Infants). The project was established to counter the epidemic of obesity and ill health sweeping through Europe's young people. It comprises 23 research centers and countries across Europe.
The researchers studied data on more than 16,000 children between the ages of 2 and 9 years and looked at their risk of future CVD by reviewing clustered CVD risk factors.
Sadly, they found that approximately 15% of the children in the study were already at heightened risk for CVD later in life, and some were aged younger than 6 years. They also confirmed an inverse relationship between physical activity and clustered CVD risk factor scores. For example, in the older children, the investigators found that CVD risk was raised in the first to third quintiles of physical activity compared with the most active quintile. In younger children, an inverse association was found only for boys. Thus, in boys aged younger than 6 years, those in the least active quintile of physical activity had about two-and-a-half times the CVD risk of those in the most active quintile.
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