London, Sep 13 (IANS) Low levels of physical activity, weaker physical fitness and obesity may lead to arterial stiffness, a sign of cardiovascular diseases, even in primary school children, says a study.
The findings suggest that a lifestyle intervention in childhood can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases later in life.
The “Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children” study (PANIC) carried out at University of Eastern Finland included 512 children aged six to eight years.
The researchers found that children whose physical fitness was better than that of their peers had a better arterial dilation capacity during physical exercise.
Furthermore, the study showed that children with weak physical fitness combined with a high body fat percentage or low levels of physical activity also had the stiffest arteries.
Moreover, higher arterial stiffness was also found in children with low levels of physical activity combined with a high body fat percentage.
Children with the most physical activity or with the best physical fitness had the most flexible arteries and the best arterial dilation capacity.
Another finding of the study is the association of better physical fitness with better arterial health, suggesting that especially regular, high-intensity physical exercise can be beneficial for arterial health.
The study was published in Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.