Exchanging sedentariness for low-intensity physical activity can prevent weight gain in children

October 20, 2016
Credit: University of Eastern Finland

As little as 10 minutes of high-intensity physical activity per day reduces the amount of adipose tissue and enhances cardiorespiratory fitness in 6-8-year-old children, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. The higher the intensity of physical activity, the stronger the association with the amount of adipose tissue. Exchanging sedentary behaviour -mainly sitting - for even low-intensity physical activity reduces the amount of adipose tissue. In order for physical activity to enhance cardiorespiratory fitness, the intensity needs to be at least moderate.

The results published in Sports Medicine are part of the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study carried out in the University of Eastern Finland. The study was conducted in collaboration with the University of Cambridge.

The study investigated the associations of physical activity and sedentary time with body adiposity and in 410 Finnish 6-8-year-old children. Physical activity and sedentary time were assessed using a combined heart rate and movement sensor, Actiheart. Body adiposity, on the other hand, was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed using a maximal exercise test on a cycle ergometer. Various confounding factors including diet quality and sleep length were controlled for in the analyses.

The study showed that the more children spent time doing physical activities, the lower their total body and central body adiposity were. The association between physical activity and body adiposity grew in tandem with physical activity intensity. Children engaging in as little as 10 minutes of high-intensity physical activity every day had 26-30% less central body fat than children who did not engage in high-intensity physical activity. The intensity of physical activity had to be at least moderate in order for it to be associated with enhanced cardiovascular fitness.

The findings indicate that exchanging 10 minutes of sedentariness for 10 minutes of high-intensity physical activity decreases the total body and central body adiposity by 13 per cent. Moreover, replacing sedentariness with light or moderately intensive physical activity also seems to decrease the amount of , but not as much as high-intensity physical activity. Exchanging 10 minutes of sedentariness for moderate- or high-intensity physical activity enhances cardiovascular fitness.
The findings indicate that even small changes to exercise-related lifestyle habits can have an impact on children's weight management and cardiovascular fitness. Increasing the amount of at various intensity levels and reducing the amount of seem to be an important way of preventing overweight and enhancing cardiovascular fitness in childhood.

Explore further: Physical activity may help keep fat children fit

More information: Paul J. Collings et al. Cross-Sectional Associations of Objectively-Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Time with Body Composition and Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Mid-Childhood: The PANIC Study, Sports Medicine (2016). DOI: 10.1007/s40279-016-0606-x

Related Stories

Physical activity may help keep fat children fit

January 13, 2016
A recent Finnish study shows that high body adiposity, low physical activity, and particularly their combination are related to poorer physical fitness among 6-8 year old children. The results also suggest that physically ...

Sedentary lifestyle and overweight in children weaken arterial health

September 11, 2015
Arterial wall stiffness and reduced arterial dilation are the first signs of cardiovascular diseases that can be measured. The Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children Study (PANIC) carried out in the Institute of Biomedicine ...

Lifestyle habits linked to pain conditions already in childhood

June 14, 2016
Poor physical fitness and sedentary behaviour are linked to increased pain conditions in children as young as 6-8 years old, according to the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children Study ongoing at the University of ...

Physical activity boosts kids' brain power and academic prowess

June 27, 2016
Exercise boosts kids' and young people's brain power and academic prowess, says a consensus statement on physical activity in schools and during leisure time, published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Fidgeting your way to fitness

June 28, 2011
Walking to the photocopier and fidgeting at your desk are contributing more to your cardiorespiratory fitness than you might think.

Physical activity offers greater health benefits to those with naturally low fitness levels

July 7, 2016
The benefits of being physically active are far greater for those who are naturally unfit, according to scientists at The University of Glasgow.

Recommended for you

Sugar not so sweet for mental health

July 27, 2017
Sugar may be bad not only for your teeth and your waistline, but also your mental health, claimed a study Thursday that was met with scepticism by other experts.

Could insufficient sleep be adding centimeters to your waistline?

July 27, 2017
Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, according to a new study.

Vitamin E-deficient embryos are cognitively impaired even after diet improves

July 27, 2017
Zebrafish deficient in vitamin E produce offspring beset by behavioral impairment and metabolic problems, new research at Oregon State University shows.

The role of dosage in assessing risk of hormone therapy for menopause

July 27, 2017
When it comes to assessing the risk of estrogen therapy for menopause, how the therapy is delivered—taking a pill versus wearing a patch on one's skin—doesn't affect risk or benefit, researchers at UCLA and elsewhere ...

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

July 26, 2017
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn't, a new study found.

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.