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Study suggests more exercise may help kids avoid long-term health problems

Author John Thompson
Submitted 01-09-2010

Findings from a new study may make fathers more inclined to encourage their kids to get more exercise on a daily basis.

Researchers from the University of Buffalo claim kids who walk to school had reduced stress reactivity, a fact that may help them avoid long-term health issues.

Scientists studied 40 children between the ages of 10 and 14 one morning. Half took a simulated ride to school by sitting in a comfortable chair and watching a 10-minute slide show of a suburban neighborhood. The other half walked one mile on a treadmill at a self-selected pace while carrying a backpack and watching a neighborhood slide show. Following a 20-minute rest period, the children took a test while having their heart rate and blood pressure monitored.

They found that the children who took a simulated walk to school experienced smaller elevations in systolic blood pressure, heart rate and perceived stress while taking the test, compared to the children who had gotten a simulated ride to school.

“The cardiovascular disease process begins in childhood, so if we can find some way of stopping or slowing that process, that would provide an important health benefit,” said researcher James Roemmich. “We know that physical activity has a protective effect on the development of cardiovascular disease, and one way it may be doing so is by reducing stress reactivity.”

Researchers say an important parenting advice tip is for fathers to encourage periods of physical activity throughout the day in order to reduce overall stress among students.