Research has shown that an increased level of physical activity as a child can help to prevent heart disease later in life. A study carried out by a team of researchers in Malmo, Sweden found chemicals in the blood of children who don’t take any physical exercise, which are a clear indication of the early stages of heart disease. The weight of the child didn’t make any difference, with thin children being affected too.
The research was carried out on a group of 300 children, aged nine or ten years old. Tests were performed which included scanning the hearts using an ECG machine, and taking blood samples. Movement was recorded using an accelerometer, which each child wore.
Although heart disease is commonly associated with excess weight gain, researchers decided to look at whether there was a link between heart disease and a sedentary lifestyle. The research team in Sweden say that the results of the tests are a clear indication of a link between inactivity and heart disease risk factors in young children, no matter what their size.
The doctors recommend a minimum of 20 minutes activity each day, with an hour of physical activity being preferable. Modern lifestyles mean that many children get a lift to school and play indoors on video games, rather than play outdoors with friends. Parents worry about their child’s safety, and take them to school in the car, while modern computer games have replaced many of the active games such as skipping, football and other games.