The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.
The health benefits of physical activity don’t concern just the older population. A study from University of Jyväskylä, UKK institute, and the network of Finnish Sports Medicine Centers examined what happens to physical activity in the transition to adulthood and how the changes in activity are associated with cardiometabolic risk factors. For the first time, longitudinal accelerometer data from Finnish adolescents were linked to health marker information collected in clinical examination.
“We compared young people who maintained physical activity or changed their activity to those participants who sustained relatively low level of physical activity throughout adolescence,” says doctoral researcher Tuula Aira from the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences. “The results showed that the changes in physical activity are reflected in health risk factors already in adolescence.”
The study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports revealed that highly active 15-year-olds who further increased their activity as young adults benefited from lowered blood pressure.
Adolescents who decreased their activity from a moderate to a low level encountered increases in the concentration of insulin (which is involved in blood glucose control), as well as in body mass index. In turn, those who reduced movement from a high level to an average level were observed to have an increase in fasting blood glucose and a decrease in HDL cholesterol.
In other words, increasing physical activity was followed by favorable changes and decreasing activity by unfavorable changes in the risk factors—even at such a young age.
The cohort study included accelerometer and clinical examination data with blood samples from 250 adolescents at age 15 (2013–2014) and at age 19 (2017–2018). At baseline, the participants were recruited from 156 sports clubs and 100 schools in six large cities and surrounding communities from different parts of Finland.