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March 15, 2018 2 min read

As technological developments continue to enhance many facets of our lives, one of their byproducts is a more sedentary population. While this is a newer reality across all generations, it could be quite concerning for the long-term health of today’s youth. As we’ve learned, prolonged periods of being sedentary contributes to a rise in body mass index (BMI), waist size, and the chance of cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Consequently, the behavioral patterns formed by the youth of our society could have significant long-term ramifications.

Current research released by the International Journal of Cardiology has studied this very dilemma. In using the data from the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence (HELENA study as a framework, the researchers found poor cardiovascular and muscular fitness, which are byproducts of a sedentary lifestyle, were strong indicators of future heart health issues. With the understanding that most previous research, which is what the health guidelines have been based in, has placed equal emphasis on both moderate and intense exercise, the researchers specifically wanted to isolate the two.

The researchers conducted a cross-sectional study on 534 European adolescents, 252 males and 282 females, between the ages of 13 and 18. They focused on and accounted for the amount in minutes per day of light exposure each individual got, their overall moderate and intense physical activity, their sedentary time, how much television they were watching, and their muscular fitness. Their most insightful findings were positive correlations between the amount of light exposure each participant got each day and their intense physical activity in relation to the risk of cardiovascular disease.

While moderate activity, such as brisk walking or light jogging has an impact on waist size, high intensity training is best for long-term cardiovascular health. Intense activity should be viewed as physical movement that makes the body work a minimum of six times as hard as it would during rest. This type of activity helps to develop overall fitness quicker and it has the long-term impacts. Teenagers should aim for 60 minutes of daily intense exercise five to six times a week for the best possible long-term heart health they can get.     

Journal Reference:

Alan R. Barker, Luis Gracia-Marco, Jonatan R. Ruiz, Manuel J. Castillo, Raquel Aparicio-Ugarriza, Marcela González-Gross, Anthony Kafatos, Odysseas Androutsos, Angela Polito, Dénes Molnar, Kurt Widhalm, Luis A. Moreno. Physical activity, sedentary time, TV viewing, physical fitness and cardiovascular disease risk in adolescents: The HELENA study. International Journal of Cardiology, 2018; 254: 303 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2017.11.080

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