Kids' Hearts Need Exercise Too

Children face heart disease risk without exercise

(RxWiki News) It is already known that not getting enough exercise can lead to heart problems in adults. Now it seems that even children can be faced with future heart troubles if they don't get up and get moving.

Children who get less exercise have a higher risk for heart disease later in life, compared to children who are more physically active.

"Even kids can get heart problems if they don't exercise."

There are other studies that have looked at the relationship between children's physical activity and their risks for heart disease. But these studies looked at only single risk factors, says Dr. Tina Tanha from Skane University Hospital in Sweden and lead author of the study.

This study, however, looked at multiple risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure, resting heart rate, fitness, and body fat.

It was important to include all these risk factors, says Dr. Tanha, because the buildup of multiple risks has a bigger impact on the possibility of heart disease and death than one risk on its own.

The Study

  • Researchers studied 223 children with an average age of 9.8 years
  • Children wore an accelerometer for four days in a row to measure their levels of physical activity
  • Children were only included in the study if they wore the accelerometer for eight hours a day for three days
  • Children went through tests to measure various risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure, resting heart rate, fitness, and body fat
  • Average body mass index (BMI) - a measure of body fat based on height and weight - for the girls was 17.5 and 17.4 for the boys
  • Boys were much more physically active that girls
  • Boys had higher levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity (45 minutes compared to 35 minutes for girls)
  • Boys had higher levels of vigorous physical activity (15 minutes compared to 11 minutes for girls)
  • Systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as arterial pressure and pulse pressure, were the basically the same between boys and girls
  • Boys had a lower total body fat mass compared to girls (13.9 lbs. for boys versus 18.3 lbs. for girls)
  • Boys had a lower percentage body fat than girls (16.2 percent versus 22.6 percent)
  • Boys had a higher peak oxygen uptake than girls (41.7 mL/min/kg for boys compared to 35.7 mL/min/kg for girls)
  • 10 percent of the difference in accumulated heart risk was explained by vigorous physical activity
  • 8 percent of the different in accumulated hear risk was explained by moderate to vigorous physical activity
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Review Date: 
May 12, 2011