Washington: Twenty minutes of vigorous exercise daily over just three months, can reduce a child’s risk of diabetes as well as his total body fat - including dangerous, deep abdominal fat, researchers have said.
“If exercise is good for you, then more exercise ought to be better for you and that is what we found for most of our outcomes,” Dr. Catherine Davis, clinical health psychologist at the Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Health Sciences University, Twenty minutes.
Pediatric and adult studies have shown the metabolic benefits of aerobic activity, but had yet to dissect differences in the dose response, or the amount of activity needed to elicit a given benefit.
The study looked at 222 overweight, previously inactive 7 to 11-year olds in the Augusta, Georgia, area and found more is better.
“Obesity is a growing public health crisis that is affecting youth throughout the United States, and we know that obesity can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Michael Lauer, Director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Division of Cardiovascular Sciences of the National Institute of Health, said.
“This research adds to the body of evidence that physical activity improves children’s health, that longer periods of exercise provide a greater benefit and that increased physical activity among overweight and obese children could stave off the onset of type 2 diabetes,” he added.
A third of the study participants maintained their typically sedentary lifestyle; a third began a 20-minute heart-rate-raising, after-school exercise routine for three months; and a third exercised for 40 minutes after school.
While their primary focus was insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes, the researchers also measured total body fat, visceral fat and aerobic fitness over the study’s course.
Children who exercised for 40 minutes had a 22 percent reduction in insulin resistance versus the controls, while the 20-minute group experienced an 18 percent reduction, study’s lead author, Davis said.
The extra 20 minutes also helped the children lose more total body fat and visceral fat while fitness, which appeared driven by intensity rather than duration, gained a similar boost from both time periods.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.