Just a bit of vigorous exercise each day could help some children and teens reduce their risk of developing heart problems and diabetes, researchers say.
The new study looked at nearly 11,600 kids, aged 4 to 18, in the United States, Brazil and Europe.
The investigators found that replacing light exercise with as little as 10 minutes a day of intense activity may provide significant cardiometabolic benefits for young people who have relatively large waists and elevated levels of insulin in their blood. These are factors that put them at risk for developing heart problems and metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.
“The results suggest that substituting modest amounts of vigorous physical activity for longer-duration light exercise may have cardiometabolic benefits above and beyond those conveyed by moderate activity and the avoidance of sedentary behavior,” lead author Justin Moore said.
Moore is an associate professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. He noted that more research is needed because additional factors that contribute to disease risk — such as diet and genetics — need to be taken into account.
“If such studies provide robust results, a relatively brief but intense dose of physical activity — perhaps as little as 10 minutes day, which is certainly feasible for most youth — could turn out to be part of a ‘prescription’ for children to achieve or maintain cardiac and metabolic health,” Moore said in a medical center news release.
The study was published recently in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
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