10 minutes of exercise gives kids a healthy start

Just 10 minutes of high-intensity exercise a day could help children reduce their risk of eventual heart disease and lower their fat levels considerably, according to a Finish study.

The study by the University of Eastern Finland found the higher the intensity of exercise in 6 to 8 year old children, the more they were able to reduce fat levels and improve cardiorespiratory fitness.

From sitting to running

Even replacing sitting with some low-intensity exercise had a noticeable impact of fat levels.

But in order for them to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, the intensity of exercise needs to be at least moderate.

The study, conducted in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, assessed the children’s activity and sedentary time using a heart rate and movement sensor.

Fat levels were measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, while cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed using a maximal exercise test on a cycle ergometer.

The children who engaged in just 10 minutes of high-intensity physical activity every day – like fast running or cycling – had 26% to 30% less central body fat than children who did not engage in such activity.

By replacing 10 minutes of sitting with 10 minutes of fast cycling, the total body fat in the children dropped by 13%.

Small changes, big impact

The findings show the big impact even small changes in exercise levels can have on children's weight and cardiovascular fitness.

Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the UK. Of children aged between 4 and 5 years old, 9.1% are obese and another 12.8% are overweight.

This grows to 19.1% obese and 14.2% overweight for those aged 10 to 11.

The results were published in Sports Medicine.


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