-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Walking to school may help
reduce children's stress throughout the day, the results of a new
This reduction in stress reactivity could prevent increases in
heart rate and blood pressure that can lead to cardiovascular
disease later in life, explained the University at Buffalo
The study included 20 girls and 20 boys, aged 10 to 14, who
underwent testing in a behavioral research laboratory. Half the
children took a simulated ride to school -- they sat in comfortable
chairs and watched a 10-minute slide show that included images of a
suburban neighborhood and ended with an image of a suburban
The other children did a one-mile walk on a treadmill at a
self-selected pace and wore a book bag that contained 10 percent of
their body weight. As they walked on the treadmill, the children
saw images of a suburban neighborhood on a screen.
After the simulations, both groups of children rested for 20
minutes and then took a test in which they were asked to identify
the color of color names printed in the wrong color (the word green
appeared in blue ink, for example). On average, heart rate
increased by about three beats per minute in children who walked,
compared with about 11 beats per minute in children who "rode" to
Compared to those who walked, the children who "rode" had a
three times greater increase in systolic blood pressure and their
change in perceived stress was about twice as high, according to
the report published in the August issue of the journal
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
"The cardiovascular disease process begins in childhood, so if we can find some way of stopping or slowing that process, that would provide an important health benefit," senior investigator James Roemmich, an associate professor of pediatrics and exercise and nutrition science, said in a news release from the University at Buffalo.
The American Heart Association has more about
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