Study Links Childhood Inactivity to Higher Young Adult Heart Disease Risk

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

Dr. Andrew Agbaje of the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, Finland, the study’s lead author, said that “all those hours of screen time in young people add up to a heavier heart, which we know from studies in adults raises the likelihood of heart attack and stroke.” Children and teenagers must move more if they want to maintain good health over the long run. This was the first investigation exploring the link between adolescent sedentary behavior as tracked by smartwatches and heart disease in later life.The Children of the 1990s study, one of the largest cohorts with lifestyle assessments commencing at birth and beginning in 1990/1991, provided the context for its completion.3. Eleven-year-olds wore a smartwatch with an activity tracker for seven days. This occurred again at ages 15 and 24, respectively.

An echocardiogram, a type of ultrasound test, was used to determine the weight of the left ventricle of the heart at the ages of 17 and 24. The result was stated as grammes per cubic metre of height (g/m2.7). The researchers looked at the association between sedentary time between the ages of 11 and 24 and heart measurements between the ages of 17 and 24 after controlling for factors that might influence the relationship, such as age, sex, blood pressure, body fat, smoking, physical activity, and socioeconomic status.

Every additional minute of sitting from ages 11 to 24 was associated with a 0.004 g/m2.7 increase in left ventricular mass from ages 17 to 24. When multiplied by the additional 169 minutes of inactivity, this amounts to a daily increase of 0.7 g/m2.7 or a 3-gram increase in left ventricular mass between echocardiography measurements at the average height growth.In a previous study, a similar increase in left ventricular mass (1 g/m2.7) over a seven-year period was associated with a two-fold increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and mortality in adults. 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 teenagers to exercise more by taking them for 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. once stated. Walk if you can’t run. Crawl if you can’t walk. However, if possible, keep going.


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