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The cardiovascular benefits of daily exercise in school children are evident even after one year
Date:5/8/2009

School children as young as 11 can benefit from a daily exercise programme in reducing their levels of several known risk factors for cardiovascular disease. An ongoing study, which began four years ago in the German city of Leipzig, shows already that children assigned to daily exercise lessons reduced their overall prevalence of obesity, improved their exercise capacity, increased their levels of HDL-cholesterol, and reduced their systolic blood pressure.

"It's clear that children today have different lifestyles from the past," says investigator Dr Claudia Walther from the Heart Centre of the University of Leipzig. "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 study, whose first-year results are reported at EuroPRevent 2009, randomised 188 school children with a mean age of 11.1 years (from seven classes at three different high schools) to either an active exercise programme in their school routine, or to a conventional curriculum of just two sports lessons a week. The exercise programme comprised daily supervised exercise which included at least 15 minutes of endurance training. "So it was well controlled," says Dr Walther, "with the teachers making sure that the programme was followed."

The first results presented here in Stockholm already show significant benefits for those in the daily exercise groups: in just one year the proportion of overweight and obese children decreased from 13% to 9%, but increased in the control group from 11% to 13%. These were statistically significant changes. Moreover, exercise capacity (as measured by VO2max) also improved significantly in the exercise groups by 29%. Similarly, levels of HDL-cholesterol and of triglycerides, and systolic blood pressure all improved in the exercise group.

"Even from these first-year results we can say that regular physical activity has a si
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Contact: ESC Press Office
press@escardio.org
33-049-294-8627
European Society of Cardiology
Source:Eurekalert

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