Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Children: The Importance of Physical Activity

Considerable evidence has accrued that cardiovascular disease (CVD) has its beginnings during childhood, with some reports of endothelial damage occurring in early adolescence. Thus, early prevention and intervention on developing cardiometabolic risk factors is important.

  • diet is important, the effects of exercise training or regular moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity go beyond simply modifying the traditional risk factors.
  • For children, the majority of studies show that regular physical activity can lower elevated blood pressure, positively influence lipid profiles, reduce inflammation, and improve vascular functioning. These changes are most evident in children who exercise and lose weight.
  • Despite these potential benefits of physical activity, not all studies on children have found positive effects of habitual physical activity on CVD risk factors. Reasons for these differences are discussed throughout this review. The literature also suggests that habitual physical activity, although meeting guidelines may not be sufficient for all individuals to bring about changes; thus, to be an effective modality physical activity needs to increase beyond habitual levels or be of a moderate to vigorous intensity.
  • This review provides recent evidence (since 2008) regarding the influence of physical activity on the cardiometabolic risk factors in children.

Robert G. McMurray, PhD, & Kristin S. Ondrak, PhD. (2013). Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Children: The Importance of Physical Activity. Am J Lifestyle Med, 7(3), 292-303. doi: 10.1177/1559827613481429

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