Vigorous exercise crucial for prevention of cardiovascular disease: Study
Starting from childhood, increasing moderate and vigorous physical activity is central in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Finland: Physical activity at higher intensity is more beneficial for arterial health than reducing sedentary time (ST) and increasing low-intensity physical activity (LPA), according to a recent study. The findings, published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, are based on the ongoing Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland.
In simpler words, higher levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity can curb arterial stiffening already in childhood. However, aerobic fitness or sedentary time were not linked to arterial health.
Arterial stiffening predisposes to heart diseases, but physical activity reduces the risk
Stiffened arteries are one of the first signs of increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, and stiffening of the arteries has been observed even in children. High levels of physical activity, reduced sedentary time and good physical fitness form the basis for prevention of cardiovascular diseases in adulthood, but little is known about their role in promoting arterial health in primary school children.
"Our study showed that increased levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity were linked to more elastic arteries and better dilatation capacity," says Dr. Eero Haapala from the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä;. "However, our results also suggest that the positive effects of moderate and vigorous physical activity on arterial health are partly explained by their positive effects on body composition."
Moderate and vigorous physical activity are important for cardiovascular health
The researchers found the healthiest arteries in children with the highest levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity, but similar associations were not observed with sedentary time or light intensity activity.
"The key message of our study is that, starting from childhood, increasing moderate and vigorous physical activity is central in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases," says Haapala. "However, it is worth remembering that every step is important, because reducing sedentary time and increasing light physical activity have various health effects, even though they may not have direct effects on the arteries."
The study investigated the association of physical activity, sedentary time, and aerobic fitness and changes in them over 2-year follow-up with arterial stiffness and dilatation capacity in 245 children aged 6 to 8 years at the beginning of the study. Physical activity was measured using a combined heart rate and movement monitor and arterial stiffness and dilatation capacity using pulse contour analysis. Body composition was measured using a DXA device.
The study titled, "Longitudinal associations of physical activity, sedentary time, and cardiorespiratory fitness with arterial health in children – the PANIC study," is published in the Journal of Sports Sciences.