Saturday, January 15, 2011

Now the Scientists Tell Us Teens Don't Need to Exercise

Scientists are telling us that exercise in childhood does not prevent diabetes in teens. But the data are skewed.

From the journal Diabetes Care, published by the American Diabetes Association, comes a new article entitled "Do Physical Activity and Aerobic Fitness Moderate the Association Between Birth Weight and Metabolic Risk in Youth?" UK-based scientists had 1,254 children aged 9 to 15 fitted with hip bands to measure motion 10 hours a day for 3 days. No connection was found between measurements of vigorous exercise and waistline, insulin resistance, or weight.

Well, of course not. Put an uncomfortable belt on kids, don't expect them to go out and play. And is 10 hours a day for three days really much of a measure of how active kids are, or not? It's no surprise that this study did not find that exercise prevented weight gain or diabetes. And it's no surprise that a study that defies common sense is the study that gets published--even if there are serious questions about the research design.

Don't believe everything you read. Teens with type 2 diabetes really do need to exercise. More than adults, teens can benefit from exercise, because their muscles have so much ability to bounce back from heavy exercise.

Every time you work a muscle so hard that it has to rebuild tissue and make itself stronger, there is a two-hour period in which the muscle is 50 times more sensitive to insulin. It soaks in sugar so it can also absorb the water and amino acids it need to bulk out muscle. 

Neither teens nor adults should work the same muscle hard every day, but every other day is enough to give muscle a chance to bulk up instead of break down. And there's no better activity for teens with type 2.


Ridgway CL, Brage S, Anderssen SA, Sardinha LB, Andersen LB, Ekelund U. Do physical activity and aerobic fitness moderate the association between birth weight and metabolic risk in youth?: the European Youth Heart Study. Diabetes Care. 2011 Jan;34(1):187-92. Epub 2010 Oct 4.

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