The Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine recently published a study linking childhood fitness levels to a reduced risk of Adult Metabolic Syndrome (MetS). MetS is defined as a having at least three of the following: abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar, high serum triglycerides, and low HDL (good) cholesterol levels. The study took place over the span of 20 years, and observed 737 participants.
Points to think about:
- Children aged 9 – 15 that have higher muscular fitness levels have an 80% lower rate of developing MetS.
- 20 – 25% of adults have the metabolic syndrome and an increased risk of developing both cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
At the first point of observation in 1985, researchers gathered strength, endurance, and power information on participants aged 9, 12 and 15. Participants then followed up 20 years later to calculate their Adult Metabolic Syndrome risk score. Waist circumference, blood pressure, ‘good’ cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose levels were measured.
Researchers found that children that scored in the top third of participants in their combined childhood muscular fitness score were at a substantially lower risk for MetS. The score was calculated by measuring strength by combining measurements for child’s grip strength, shoulder flexion, and shoulder and leg extension; endurance through the number of push-ups completed in 30 seconds; and power through a standing long jump.
Increased physical activity in children also increases strength and endurance, may lead to better sport performance, and helps to protect joints and muscles from injury.
It’s important to show your kids the benefits of a healthy lifestyle from an early age. Children who are overweight or obese are likely to grow into overweight adults, which can lead to an increased risk of other health issues. As a result, finding new and fun ways your children active can go a long way in terms of their long term health.