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Adolescents' Muscular Strength Plays a Role in Heart and Metabolic Health

​In a study published in the April 2014 issue of Pediatrics, researchers found teen boys and girls who have greater muscular strength are at lower risk for heart disease and diabetes. Stronger boys and girls also have better scores on other measures of cardiometabolic health, including lower body mass index, lower percent body fat, smaller waist circumferences, and higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness.

For the study, “Strength Capacity and Cardiometabolic Risk Clustering in Adolescents,” published online March 31, researchers analyzed health data for more than 1,400 boys and girls ages 10 to 12, including their:

They used these measures to create an aggregate metabolic syndrome score (there are no formally agreed-upon definitions of metabolic syndrome in children and adolescents) and boys and girls with greater strength-to-body-mass ratios (i.e. pound-for-pound strength capacities) had significantly lower risk. The findings contradict a widely held belief that only high BMI, low cardiorespiratory fitness, and excessive sedentary behaviors are the primary drivers of cardiometabolic problems. Previous, large-scale studies have found low muscular strength in teen boys is a risk factor for several major causes of death in young adulthood, such as suicide and cardiovascular diseases.

The authors conclude that this study bolsters support for strategies -- including strength training or strengthening exercises – to maintain healthy BMIs and body compositions among children and adolescents, and that it supports the use of resistance exercise to supplement traditional weight loss interventions among children and teens.

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Published
3/31/2014 12:00 AM