Adolescents who get daily vigorous physical activity tend to be leaner and fitter than their less active peers, researchers have shown.
“The leanest and fittest kids are the ones who have the most vigorous activity for longer periods of time,” says Dr. Bernard Gutin, exercise physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia and lead author on the study published in the April American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “We could not show that the amount of minutes spent in moderate activity – such as walking to school – was related to how fat they were, although it did have some impact on cardiovascular fitness. The implication is that you need to do vigorous activity if you want to be lean.”
Researchers used an accelerometer that discriminates between light, moderate and vigorous physical activity to monitor the usual physical activity of 421 black and white adolescents for five days. Cardiovascular fitness was measured by a treadmill test that went progressively faster at an increasing incline. The most fit took in more oxygen at a lower heart rate. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, which measures bone, fat and fat-free soft tissue (mostly muscle) was used to determine body fat.
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