May 11, 2009

School exercise benefits children’s hearts

School children as young as 11 can benefit from a daily exercise program to reduce their risk factors for cardiovascular disease, researchers in Germany say.

In the study group of 188 children -- mean age of 11.1 years -- those assigned to an active exercise program with at least 15 minutes of endurance training rather than a conventional program have already shown improved levels of high-density lipoprotein, the good cholesterol and of triglycerides and lowered systolic blood pressure.

It's clear that children today have different lifestyles from the past, Dr. Claudia Walther of the Heart Centre of the University of Leipzig, says in a statement. They're less active, and it was our hypothesis that an increase in their exercise activity would result in fewer risks of cardiovascular disease later in life.

The preliminary results show significant benefits for those in the daily exercise groups. In one year the proportion of overweight and obese children decreased from 13 percent to 9 percent, wile it increased in the control group from 11 percent to 13 percent.

The findings were presented at the scientific program of EuroPRevent 2009 -- the congress of the European Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation in Stockholm, Sweden.