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Physical Activity Reduces Inflammation in Kids

Researchers find that physically active children have less low-grade inflammation.

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Kids exercising to reduce inflammation in kids

Fitness professionals understand that physical activity sets children up for a healthier, happier life. And here’s yet another reason to encourage children’s fitness programs related to inflammation in kids.

Researchers collaborated internationally to study how physical activity, sedentary time and diet quality were linked with inflammation biomarkers in 390 boys and girls ages 6–8. While many recognize the impact of inflammation on chronic disease risks for adults, and particularly for older adults, low-grade inflammation can begin in childhood. This new research shows that physical activity can reduce this inflammation in kids.

Investigators found that higher physical activity levels and lower amounts of sedentary time were associated with less systemic inflammation. “The [primary] message of our results is that increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary time are key in preventing low-grade inflammation since childhood,” said lead study author Eero A. Haapala, PhD, adjunct professor in pediatric exercise physiology at University of Jyväskylä, Finland, who added that this is “particularly important for overweight children.”

Study authors also noted that “body fat percentage modified these associations” and that vigorous-intensity physical activity, in particular, was inversely associated with biomarkers of inflammation [in] children with higher body fat percentage” but not in those with a lower percentage of body fat.

Look for the findings in European Journal of Sport Science (2021;doi:10.1080/17461391.2021.1892830).

See also: How Exercise Helps Inflammation

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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