If there was one simple thing you could do for your children or grandchildren to help them prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and type 2 diabetes later in life wouldn’t you want to know what it is?
Two factors that contribute to the loss of arterial elasticity are arteriosclerosis – the thickening and hardening of the arterial walls – and arterial stiffness. Both are typically associated with the ageing process.
However, both arterial stiffness and arteriosclerosis are also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke, two of the leading causes of death across the globe.
Suffice to say, when it comes to your child or grandchild’s health, arterial stiffness and the increased risk of cardiovascular disease are probably not at the top of your list of things you worry about…
But perhaps they should be.
Start them early
Recent results of the ongoing Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children Study (PANIC), at the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Eastern Finland, have shown that low levels of physical activity, weaker physical fitness and higher body fat are linked to arterial stiffness in children as young as 6 years old.
These latest findings, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, revealed that children who are fit, engage in plenty of physical activity and have a low body fat percentage have more flexible arterial walls, compared to children who are unfit and overweight, or do little or no physical activity.
The study also showed that physical fitness alone played an import role in arterial elasticity. Children whose physical fitness was better than that of their peers also had better arterial dilation – when the flow of blood is increased due to a decrease in vascular resistance, which in turn also decreases blood pressure.
The research also suggests that regular, high-intensity physical exercise in particular can be beneficial for arterial health.
Earlier, the PANIC Study also found that early signs of type 2 diabetes and heart disease begin to show themselves in childhood, in people who were overweight and physically passive as children.
The message is clear: Get your children to engage in some form of regular physical activity. Cultivating a healthy diet and lifestyle from an early age can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes later in life.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
Sedentary lifestyle and overweight weaken arterial health already in childhood, published online 11.09.15, eurekalert.org
How 5 Minutes Can Make a Big Difference, published online 05.09.15, drweil.com