Childhood Physical Activity Improves Lung Function for Adolescent Girls

Association not observed for boys; authors say high prevalence of physical inactivity 'worrying'

MONDAY, Aug. 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Girls who are more physically active in childhood may have better lung function in adolescence, according to a study published online July 3 in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Célina Roda, Ph.D., from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children cohort of 14,305 singleton U.K. births that survived to 1 year of age. At 11, 13, and 15 years, physical activity was assessed for seven days using an accelerometer.

The researchers found that <7 percent of participants met the World Health Organization physical activity recommendations (daily average of at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity). Compared with girls, boys were substantially more active. Three distinct physical activity trajectories were noted for both sexes (low, 39.8 percent boys versus 45.8 percent girls; moderate, 42.9 percent boys versus 41.4 percent girls; high, 17.3 percent boys versus 12.8 percent girls). Girls in the moderate and high physical activity trajectories had higher forced vital capacity (0.11 L and 0.15 L, respectively) compared with their less-active peers. This association was not seen in boys.

"The high prevalence of physical inactivity observed in children is worrying. Extrapolated to the population as a whole, this is a factor that could have a considerable impact on lung function," a coauthor said in a statement. "Strategies for promoting physical activity in childhood could be highly beneficial for the respiratory health of the population."

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