(HealthDay News) – In youth, vigorous physical activity (PA), but not light or moderate PA, correlates with improved measures of cardiometabolic risk, according to research published online September 10 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

To examine the correlation between PA intensity and cardiometabolic risk factors, Jacqueline Hay, of the Manitoba Institute of Child Health in Winnipeg, Canada, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study using data from a convenience sample of 605 youth aged 9–17 years from the 2008 Healthy Hearts Prospective Cohort Study of Physical Activity and Cardiometabolic Health in Youth.

As the intensity of exercise increased, the researchers found that participants’ body mass index z score, waist circumference, and systolic blood pressure decreased, and their cardiorespiratory fitness, as measured by maximal oxygen consumption, increased, in a dose-dependent manner. Light and moderate activity did not correlate with changes in cardiometabolic risk factors. Youth who achieved at least seven minutes of vigorous PA daily had a significantly reduced likelihood of being overweight (odds ratio, 0.56) and having elevated systolic blood pressure (odds ratio, 0.36). There was a decrease in the odds of overweight status and elevated blood pressure with increasing time and intensity of PA.

“These data support the concept that vigorous types of PA should be encouraged to reduce cardiometabolic risk factors in youth,” the authors write. “The current targets for PA in youth may need to be reexamined, and the inclusion of specific targets for vigorous PA emphasized.”

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