Children who run, jump or otherwise work up a sweat intermittently for a total of just under two hours a day have better blood vessel health, say researchers. (iStock)

Physical activity can affect children’s future heart health: study

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A study of children three to five years old found that those who engaged in almost two hours of energetic play daily had better blood vessel health and cardiovascular fitness that could help prevent later heart disease.

“Kids don’t get heart attacks,” says Brian Timmons, associate professor of pediatrics at McMaster University and lead author of the study. “But the processes that lead to those events do begin in early childhood. And what our study shows is that physical activity can influence, it can alter the trajectories of how our arteries stiffen in a positive way.”

Various measurements were taken to determine the effects of physical activity on blood vessels and fitness. (YouTube/McMaster University)

Children are thought to be naturally active, but Timmons says electronic screens are attractive and time spent with them often take away from time spent being active. For this study, 400 children were followed over three years. Researchers will continue to follow the subjects to see how their heart health plays out in the future.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Prof. Brian Timmons explains how the study was conducted to determine the effects of physical activity on young children’s arteries and fitness.

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