Physically Inactive Children As Young as 9 Can Show Increased Risk for Heart Problems

Even healthy children as young as 9 can start to show an increased risk of future heart problems if they do not exercise, according to a new study.

Researchers from Sweden and Denmark assessed the level of physical activity in 200 children, with an average age of 9.8 years, over a period of four days through the use of an electric waist belt.

The children were also tested for various cardiovascular disease risk factors, including blood pressure, resting heart rate, fitness and body fat.

Results showed that children who were more physically active had a lower risk factor score for cardiovascular disease than children who were less active.

“It is well known that physical inactivity in adults is associated with a wide range of diseases and all causes of death” said lead author Dr Tina Tanha from the Department of Clinical Sciences at Skane University Hospital in Malmo, Sweden.   “We believe that our study now demonstrates a clear clinical association between physical inactivity and multiple cardiovascular disease risk factors in children.”

Physical activity, she added, may account for up to 11 percent of the variance in scores between active children and less active children.

The results are important, according to Tanha, because cardiovascular disease is often a result of an accumulation of factors over time.

The study was published in Acta Paediatrica.