Just ten minutes of play a day can help children reduce their risk of developing heart disease and diabetes later in life

Playtime can help children relax and let loose after spending all day in school, but it can also decrease their risk of disease.

Just 10 minutes of playing every day can reduce a child′s risk of having heart disease, developing heart disease, or suffering a stroke later in life, a new study says.

Scientists say replacing light-intensity physical activity with brief periods of vigorous exercise may provide significant cardiometabolic benefits in kids - particularly those with large waist measurements and elevated insulin levels in their blood.

The percentage of children with obesity in the US has more than tripled since the 1970s, according to the CDC.

Currently, about one in five school-aged children, between ages six and 19, is obese.

These children are at risk for a number of health problems. The American Diabetes Association says even a small amount of weight loss can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

The study, conducted at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, analyzed data from more than 11,000 kids between ages four and 18, who were included in 11 international studies in the US, Brazil and European countries.

The researchers focused on records that included the child′s age, gender, level of physical activity and at least one biomarker - a measurable indicator of a medical state or condition - of cardiometabolic risk.

Such indicators included weight circumference, blood pressure, and bloodstream levels of ′good′ cholesterol, ′bad′ cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose and insulin.

Researchers found 32 significant associations between biomarkers and vigorous physical activity out of a possible 360.

All 32 were related to reduced waist circumference and insulin levels. The children who participated in vigorous exercise had lower waist measurements and reduced insulin levels.

The relationships between high-intensity exercise and the other biomarkers were inconsistent.

′The results suggest that substituting modest amounts of vigorous physical activity for longer-duration light exercise may have cardiometabolic benefits above and beyond those conveyed by moderate activity,′ said lead author Dr Justin Moore, an associate professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

′But as vigorous activity was independently associated with only two of the markers examined, it may be that its truly meaningful benefits may be limited, relative to less-intense exercise.′

An April 2016 study from McMaster University in Canada found that short bursts of intense exercise produce similar results to traditional longer-duration workouts.

′All-out′ workouts adding up to just 60 seconds within a 10-minute session were shown to improve insulin sensitivity and cardiorespiratory fitness.

Dr Moore said he would like to conduct further studies with additional variables, such as dietary and genetic data, so that the relationship between various levels of exercise and cardiometabolic biomarkers is better established.

′If such studies provide robust results, a relatively brief but intense dose of physical activity - perhaps as little as 10 minutes day, which is certainly feasible for most youth - could turn out to be part of a "prescription" for children to achieve or maintain cardiac and metabolic health,′ he said.

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