A recent Finnish study concluded that vigorous physical activity can curb arterial stiffening. The results, based on the ongoing Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study, conducted at the University of Eastern Finland, were published in the Journal of Sports Sciences.
One of the first symptoms of cardiovascular diseases is stiffed arteries and has been observed even in children in a sedentary lifestyle. A high level of physical activity and maintaining fitness is the first step for prevention of cardiovascular diseases in adulthood.
“Our study showed that increased levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity were linked to more elastic arteries and better dilatation capacity,” said Dr Eero Haapala from the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyvaskyla.
“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,” added Dr Haapala.
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“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,” said Dr Haapala.
Dr Haapala added, “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 was conducted on 245 children ranging from the ages of 6 to 8 at the beginning of the study. Their physical activity was measured using combined heart rate and movement monitor and arterial stiffness and dilatation capacity using pulse contour analysis. A follow-up was conducted after 2 years, post which the results were concluded.
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