Lyndon Rebello, Trinity Western University
Take home message
- In children with excess fat, higher cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with a decreased probability of high blood pressure.
- Greater cardiorespiratory fitness is also associated with lower insulin resistance and improved liver function.
- Improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness should be considered as a therapeutic strategy for reducing cardiovascular disease risk in children with excess fat.
- High blood pressure in children can lead to preclinical damage to the heart and accelerates the onset of cardiovascular disease.
- Obesity in children is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is linked to high blood pressure.
- High blood pressure can cause damage to many critical organs, but pharmacological approaches to reduce blood pressure often do not prevent the damage.
- Exercise that promotes cardiorespiratory fitness is a nonpharmacological approach to mitigate high blood pressure in adults but less is known about the effects of exercise in countering high blood pressure in children.
How the study was done
- 211 children (7-10 years) were enrolled in the Arkansas Active Kids study and completed the experiment in one visit:
Body composition and visceral fat of the children were assessed using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry.
Blood pressure was measured at rest, and cardiorespiratory fitness was measured as peak oxygen uptake (V̇O2peak) during a graded exercise test on a cycle ergometer.
Blood draws were taken to evaluate cholesterol levels, cardiometabolic health and vital organ function.
- Statistical modeling was used to determine links between cardiorespiratory fitness and other assessments listed above.
What the researchers found
- Higher V̇O2peak was associated with lower blood pressure.
- Higher V̇O2peak was associated with lower insulin resistance, and improved liver function in children with excess fat.
- A greater V̇O2peak in children with excess fat was associated with a decreased probability of high blood pressure.
- Higher cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with decreased probability of high blood pressure, lower insulin resistance, and better liver function in children with excess fat. Blood pressure is lower in children with greater cardiorespiratory fitness regardless of amount of fat.
Diaz, E. C., Weber, J. L., Adams, S. H., Young, C. G., Bai, S., & Børsheim, E. [Cardiorespiratory Fitness Associates with Blood Pressure and Metabolic Health of Children—The Arkansas Active Kids Study] Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2021; 53; 2225-2232
This article is a summary of an article published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism. If you intend to cite any information in this article, please consult the original article and cite that source. This summary was written for the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and it has been reviewed by the CSEP Knowledge Translation Committee.