MAY 08, 2024 1:30 PM PDT

Sedentary Lifestyle May Harm Children's Hearts

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

New research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that sedentary behavior and a lack of physical activity during childhood can strain the heart, potentially increasing the risk of heart disease later in life.

The study included 153 participants who were 6–8 years old at the beginning of the study. Heart rate monitors and accelerometers were used to measure the participants’ physical activity and cumulative sedentary time for eight years. After eight years, the cardiac function of the participants was measured. The goal of the study was to see how physical activity and cumulative sedentary time during childhood affect heart function in adolescence.

The results showed that participants who got low amounts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and accumulated high sedentary time during childhood had a higher cardiac workload when they reached adolescence. Cardiac workload is a measure of the stress put on the heart, and a high cardiac workload can be predictive of some types of heart disease. Low physical activity and high amounts of sedentary time were also associated with higher body fat in adolescence. This higher body fat partially but not completely explained the higher cardiac workload of the participants.

The authors of the study noted that high levels of physical activity are very important for children and adolescents, since regular physical activity can improve heart health, weight, and overall wellbeing. This study showed that most children spent 9­–10 hours a day sedentary, and only about one out of 10 children were getting an hour or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day. This lack of regular exercise may lead to increased weight and even obesity, which is associated with heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. To improve lifelong health and wellbeing, regular exercise is essential, particularly during childhood.

Sources: JAHA, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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