Exercise Program Helps Kids' Hearts, Cuts Fat
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 12:00 AM

Normal and overweight children who took part in a 9-month, after-school exercise program showed improved cardiorespiratory fitness and modest reductions in overall fat and abdominal fat, researchers found.  The 8- and 9-year-old children participating in the exercise program increased cardiorespiratory fitness as measured by maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) percentile, while the control group showed no change in this measure of fitness.

The randomized controlled trial showed that an exercise program designed to meet daily activity recommendations for children can improve their overall fitness and help control weight.

More than 30% of children and adolescents in the U.S. are overweight, and the prevalence of extreme obesity has tripled since 1980.  Along with the rise in obesity, children in the U.S. are also increasingly sedentary. A 2008 study found that more than 50% of 6- to 11-year-olds and 90% of 12- to 15-year-olds do not get the recommended 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

"We know that physical education in schools has declined to abysmal levels, and that is where kids spend most of their time," Among the major findings:

  • Among the intervention group, reductions in fat mass percentage were seen in children who were not overweight and those who were overweight and obese.
  • In the control group, the percentage of fat mass increased slightly over the 9-month period.
  • Central fat mass percentage decreased among the intervention group, and increased slightly among the control group.
  • Visceral adipose tissue remained unchanged among the intervention group, while it increased among the control group.
The findings reiterate the importance of providing children with opportunities to be physically active throughout the day.

"School administrators and other policymakers should endeavor to provide students more opportunities to be physically active during the school day and after school," authors concluded.

Source:  http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/GeneralPrimaryCare/45062