Physical activity and cardiovascular performance – how important is cardiorespiratory fitness in childhood?
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- Schindler, C., Siegert, J. & Kirch, W. J Public Health (2008) 16: 235. doi:10.1007/s10389-008-0190-0
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Physical inactivity is considered to be a major health burden. Evidence has shown that physically active subjects have more longevity with a significant reduction of morbidity and mortality. Physical exercise prevents or reduces the deleterious effects of pathological conditions, such as arterial hypertension, coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer's disease. Although there is less evidence of benefit for children, some risk factors for diseases in adults are associated with lower levels of physical activity in childhood. It has recently been demonstrated in a cohort of Swedish and Estonian children that cardiovascular fitness is associated with features of metabolic risk factors in children.
This review provides a brief update on the available new study evidence in children for the role of physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness in reducing the general cardiovascular risk in adulthood and clarifies the role of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) as a potential risk marker to be included in public health studies investigating cardiorespiratory fitness.
Identifying factors that influence physical activity in childhood may help to develop better intervention strategies. Recently published studies add further supportive evidence to the body of knowledge suggesting that cardiorespiratory fitness in children is an important health marker and should therefore be included in a pan-European health-monitoring system.
Currently available study evidence reveals close relationships between physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness in children and underlines cardiorespiratory fitness as an important health marker in childhood.