Sunday, 29 July 2007

For heart health, type 1 kids must move

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A new report says physical activity is critical for kids with type 1 diabetes because it helps prevent heart trouble later in life. The German and Austrian researchers behind the study reached this conclusion after crunching the numbers for more than 23,000 kids between ages three and eighteen, comparing their health with activity levels. As you would expect, the most active kids had the healthiest hearts and lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. By comparison, thirty-six percent of children who were active only once or twice a week had high cholesterol and triglycerides.

For type 1 kids, activity levels relate to HbA1c levels: fit children had lower HbA1c levels. High HbA1c levels in childhood practically guarantee your child will experience heart problems down the road. Says lead researcher Antje Herbst: "Clearly, getting off the couch and out of doors, where they can be more physically active, is good for all kids. But for children with type 1 diabetes, the need to stay physically active is even greater due to the increased risk for heart disease."

Parents: you don't have to sign your little ones up for triathlon training, boot camp or anything like that. Vigorous exercise is not necessary to reap the benefits. Regular periods of normal play are adequate. Even half an hour a day can make a difference, the researchers say. Common sense, however, suggests this is a case where more is definitely better.

The results of this study appear in the latest Diabetes Care (August 2007).

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