Physical activity has cardiovascular benefits even for very young children, finds a new study.
According to a longitudinal study, even very young children experience cardiovascular benefits from physical activity.Furthermore the more vigorous the activity, the better is the benefit.The study has been published in Pediatrics.
In wake of the study, therefore cardiovascular disease prevention should begin in childhood.
It is established that exercise benefits adults as for as cardiovascular disease prevention is concerned but the influence of physical activity on cardiovascular health in early childhood is unknown.
The purpose in this study was to determine the effect of physical activity on trajectories of cardiovascular health indicators during early childhood.
In this prospective, observational cohort study (Health Outcomes and Physical Activity in Preschoolers) the researchers enrolled 418 children who were 3- to 5-year-olds with annual assessments for 3 years. Total physical activity (TPA) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) were measured over 7 days via accelerometry. Cardiovascular health indicators included cardiovascular fitness (exercise time on a maximal treadmill test [treadmill time] and 1-minute heart rate recovery), resting arterial stiffness (whole-body pulse wave velocity and carotid β stiffness index), and seated systolic blood pressure. Data were analyzed by using linear mixed-effects modeling; effects are reported as unstandardized estimates (Est).
The children aged 3 to 5 years wore a hip accelerometer for 1 week to measure physical activity, after which they underwent exercise treadmill testing and had their resting arterial stiffness and blood pressure assessed. They did this once a year for 3 years.
The researchers found that-
Treadmill endurance increased over the 3 years, and more physical activity, especially moderate-to-vigorous activity, was associated with better endurance.
Markers of arterial stiffness increased over time, but children who spent more time in moderate-to-vigorous activity saw less increase.
Systolic blood pressure also increased over the study period, but moderate-to-vigorous physical activity seemed to slow the increase among girls.
The researchers concluded that Children who engage in higher levels of physical activity during early childhood have better cardiovascular health indicators, with more intense physical activity (ie, MVPA) attenuating the stiffening of arteries.