A new study has revealed that children who do at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise each day can reduce their chances of developing of diabetes.
Scientists in the US examined 222 overweight and previously inactive seven to 11 year olds and found that 20 minutes of aerobic activity can reduce insulin resistance (a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes) and reduce total body fat, including dangerous, deep abdominal fat, in children in just three months – although the benefits are even greater for those who do 40 minutes of daily exercise.
While a third of the participants maintained their typically sedentary lifestyle, a third began a 20-minute heart-rate-raising, after-school exercise routine for three months, and a third exercised for 40 minutes after school.
Those who exercised for 20 minutes each day experienced an 18 per cent reduction in insulin resistance versus the controls, while the figure rose to 22 per cent for children in the 40-minute group.
The extra 20 minutes also helped the children lose more total body fat and visceral fat – associated with a higher risk of heart disease – while those in both the 20-minute and 40-minute groups experienced a similar boost in overall fitness.
Lead author Dr Catherine Davis, of Georgia Health Sciences University, said: “If exercise is good for you, then more exercise ought to be better for you and that is what we found for most of our outcomes.
“If you are able to get kids active for 20 minutes every day in school, whether through physical education or taking a running break during lunch, that can make a real difference.”
Dr Michael Lauer, of the National Institute of Health, added: “This research adds to the body of evidence that physical activity improves children’s health, that longer periods of exercise provide a greater benefit and that increased physical activity among overweight and obese children could stave off the onset of type 2 diabetes.”

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