Exercise Has Many Benefits in Overweight Children

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In addition to improved fitness levels, eight weeks of aerobic exercise improves levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and measures of circulatory function, in overweight children and adolescents, according to a report in the December issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

Dr. Aaron S. Kelly, from the St. Paul Heart Clinic in Minnesota, and colleagues studied 20 overweight children who were randomly assigned to stationary cycling or to a nonexercising "control" group.

Compared with the control group, the exercise group showed a significant improvement in aerobic fitness, as measured by peak oxygen uptake. In addition, exercising subjects experienced a significant increase in HDL cholesterol levels and in measures of circulatory function.

In a related editorial, Dr. Samuel S. Gidding, from Nemours Cardiac Center in Wilmington, Delaware, comments that "it is common in editorials to applaud the scientific work done by creative investigators and call for more research." However, in light of such findings, "I think we ought to do more exercise and exercise teaching than research."

SOURCE: Journal of Pediatrics, December 2004.