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Teens not getting enough vigorous physical activity are at increased risk of future disease


National health guidelines for teenagers should be modified to include exercises to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, as well as vigorous physical activity, and cut back sedentary time used for watching television, according to researchers from the University of Exeter. The study, which will be published in the March 2018 edition of the International Journal of Cardiology, indicated doing these activities will significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) in youth.

  • Researchers conducted this study to independently determine the link between physical activity – in particular, the intensity of activity – as well as its effects on sedentary time and fitness levels.
  • The data used came from the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence (HELENA) study, a cross-sectional approach on 534 teenagers from Europe, aged 12.5 years to 17.5 years old.
  • Using accelerometers, the time spent by the teenagers doing light, moderate, and vigorous physical activities was measured – including their sedentary time. For their TV viewing time, data was gathered through a survey.
  • To test the teenagers’ cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, a 20-meter shuttle run was used in concert with a hand dynamometer. CVD outcomes were determined using factors such as body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, height, the sum of skinfolds, blood pressure, blood lipids, and insulin resistance. The clustered cardiovascular risk was measured using the sum of skinfolds, insulin resistance, blood lipids, and blood pressure.
  • The findings indicated that only vigorous physical activity marked a significant impact on the risk factors related to CVD, such as BMI and the sum of skinfold, as well as with its clustered risk. Moreover, watching television also marked a positive correlation with clustered CVD risk, as well as insulin resistance.

Researchers concluded that vigorous physical activity is essential in boosting fitness, which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.

Journal Reference:

Barker AR, Gracia-Marco L, Ruiz JR, Castillo MJ, Aparicio-Ugarriza R, González-Gross M, Kafatos A, Androutsos O, Polito A, Molnar D, et al. PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, SEDENTARY TIME, TV VIEWING, PHYSICAL FITNESS AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE RISK IN ADOLESCENTS: THE HELENA STUDY. International Journal of Cardiology. 2018;254:303–309. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcard.2017.11.080

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