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Bursts of exercise 'best for teens'

Published 10/06/2015

High-intensity bouts of exercise has more benefits for teenagers, research has found
High-intensity bouts of exercise has more benefits for teenagers, research has found

Teenagers should run around like young children and do short bursts of high-intensity exercise, a new study claims.

If adolescents do as little as two minutes of strenuous exercise four times a day, it can be beneficial in improving long-term health.

Researchers at the University of Exeter said the same level of medium-intensity exercise did not reap the same rewards for teenagers.

They found that when exercise was broken up into short bursts over the course of a day - replicating the way young children go about being active - only high-intensity exercise is effective in improving blood sugar levels, fat metabolism and blood pressure in adolescents after the consumption of a fatty meal.

The research adds to the growing body of literature suggesting that accumulating short bouts of high-intensity exercise may be more important for cardiovascular health than exercising at a moderate intensity.

This is important, as cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in the UK and the process underlying these diseases starts in youth.

Co-author Dr Alan Barker, from the University of Exeter, said: "Children and adolescents tend to perform brief bouts of exercise.

"This study shows that the intensity of this pattern of exercise is important, with high-intensity providing superior health benefits than moderate-intensity exercise."

In the study, adolescents had their blood sugar, blood pressure and fat metabolism measured at regular intervals over eight hours, which included the consumption of a fatty meal for breakfast and lunch.

During this period the participants were asked to perform four bouts of high or moderate-intensity exercise.

This allowed the researchers to conclude that the intensity of exercise is important for health in adolescents when the exercise is accumulated during the day.

:: The study, Accumulating Exercise and Postprandial Health in Adolescents, is published in the journal Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental.

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