Sedentary time from childhood to adulthood tied to heart damage

Martin Luther King Jr. famously stated, “If you can’t fly, run. Walk if you can’t run. Crawl if you can’t walk. However, by all means continue moving.

Sedentary time from childhood to adulthood tied to heart damage

Hours of inactivity during infancy may be setting the framework for heart attacks and strokes later in adulthood, according to research presented at ESC Congress 2023. The study found that sedentary time accrued from childhood to young adulthood was connected to heart impairment, even in those with normal weights and blood pressure.

We know from adult research that young people who spend so much time staring at screens develop a heavier heart, which raises their risk of heart attack and stroke. Children and teenagers must move more if they want to protect their long-term health.

This was the first study to look into the connection between young people’s sedentary time as measured by smartwatches and later-life heart disease. It was carried out as a part of the Children of the 1990s project, one of the biggest cohorts with lifestyle assessments starting at birth and beginning in 1990/1991.

Children aged 11 used an activity tracker-equipped wristwatch for seven days. This happened once again at age 15 and once more at age 24. At 17 and 24 years of age, the weight of the left ventricle of the heart was measured by echocardiogram, a form of ultrasound examination, and expressed as grams per cubic metre of height.

After adjusting for variables that could affect the relationship, such as age, sex, blood pressure, body fat, smoking, physical activity, and socioeconomic status, the researchers examined the relationship between sedentary time between the ages of 11 and 24 and heart measurements between the ages of 17 and 24.

766 kids were included in the research, out of whom 55% were girls and 45% were males. Children were sedentary for 362 minutes per day on average when they were 11 years old, increasing to 474 minutes per day in adolescence (15 years old), and 531 minutes per day in early adulthood (24 years old). This indicates that from childhood and young adulthood, sedentary time rose by an average of 169 minutes (2.8 hours) every day.

From 11 to 24 years of age, every additional minute spent sitting was linked to a 0.004 g/m2.7 rise in left ventricular mass between 17 and 24 years of age. This translates to a daily rise of 0.7 g/m2.7, or a 3 gram increase in left ventricular mass between echocardiogram measurements at the average height growth, when multiplied by the additional 169 minutes of inactivity.

A comparable rise in left ventricular mass (1 g/m2.7) during a seven-year period was linked to a two-fold greater risk of heart disease, stroke, and mortality in adults, according to a prior research.

Dr. Agbaje stated: “Children were inactive for more than six hours a day, and by the time they reached young adulthood, this climbed by over three hours a day. Our study shows that independent of body weight or blood pressure, the accumulation of inactivity is linked to cardiac damage.

Parents should encourage kids and teens to exercise more by taking them on walks and limiting the amount of time they spend on video games and social media. ‘If you can’t fly, run,’ as Martin Luther King Jr. famously stated. Walk if you can’t run. Crawl if you can’t walk. However, by all means continue moving.