We typically think of heart disease as something that happens in old age, but in fact, it begins to develop in childhood.
That’s why it’s important to start cardiovascular prevention early in life.
How early? A new study says as young as three, four, or five years old.
Kids playing outside – that’s what childhood is supposed to be like. Just running around and playing.
While many kids are having fun, believe it or not, they’re also doing something to help prevent heart disease.
So that’s what researchers set out to show – that even in pre-school, moderate to vigorous physical activity works to prevent early heart disease.
The findings are in the July issue of the Journal of Paediatrics.
The Canadian researchers followed the physical activity of nearly 400 per-schoolers for three years, periodically testing them on various measures of cardiovascular health.
The research findings showed that even during early childhood, physical activity is beneficial for blood vessel health and for cardiovascular fitness. Young children who were more active lasted longer on the treadmill test, indicating they had better cardiovascular fitness and their heart rates recovered faster after exercise.
Even more significant, the researchers said these beneficial effects of physical activity may carry over into later childhood and even adulthood.
There could be a couple of reasons that may be true.
“There are probably physiologic mechanisms that can potentially carry on to adult life. The more active you are as a kid, the more likely you are able to maintain those activity levels into adulthood,” explained Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail, Consultant Paediatrician and Chairman of Positive Parenting Programme.
Obviously, this means that young children should be encouraged to get away from their video game screens and go out and play.
For pre-schoolers, that means unstructured play, not organised sports or classes. Let them run around, play tag, climb the jungle gym.
“Resist the urge to enrol them in formal sports until they begin primary school or so,” advises Dr Zulkifli.