Moderate exercise may not be enough for reducing a teenager's heart disease risk later in life, according to new research from the University of Exeter in the U.K. The American Heart Association reports that cardiovascular disease accounts for about 1 in 3 deaths in the U.S.
Researchers looked at 534 teens ages 12 to 17 from various European countries to compare health outcomes of moderate activity versus vigorous activity.
Key findings from the study:
- Moderate and vigorous activity affected health differently. Only vigorous activity made a significant impact specifically on risk factors that raise the chance of heart disease.
- Vigorous exercise can boost cardiovascular and muscular fitness. Both are key to reducing heart disease.
- TV time makes a difference. There is a strong link between time spent watching TV and risk factors for developing diabetes or heart disease as adults.
"Identification of which activities positively and negatively impact the odds of developing heart disease are critical in the long term,” said Rizwan Khalid, MD, a cardiologist with Ascension Via Christi Hospital’s Heart Center. “The earlier people start leading a heart healthy life, including proper diet and proper exercise, the better off they will be.”
Moderate activity is generally defined as using at least three times the energy a person would use while at rest. Vigorous activity means using at least six times a person's resting level.