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New P.E. study demonstrates vigorous exercise can lower adolescents body fat, blood pressure

(Embargoed) CHAPEL HILL By cutting the time adolescents spend standing around in school physical education classes and boosting the amount of exercise they do, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill experts have shown they can control the children's body fat and lower their blood pressure.

Positive results are measurable within eight weeks of regularly scheduled classes, researchers say.

Their new study -- the first to show such benefits from physical education classes for adolescents -- revealed that each class involved as few as six to 10 minutes of vigorous exercise, at least in the schools they worked with. Without much difficulty, researchers tripled exercise time by substituting activities that kept the children in motion and not just watching others.

"Having children participate in vigorous exercise programs while simultaneously learning about the benefits of proper nutrition and exercise reduces their chances of ultimately developing type 2 diabetes and other health problems associated with inactivity and being overweight," said Dr. Robert G. McMurray, professor of exercise and sport science at UNC. "As a group, active children of normal weight will live significantly longer, healthier and more satisfying lives. As a nation, we need to emphasize this much more since right now, we're doing an increasingly bad job of it."

A report on the findings appears in the August issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. Besides McMurray, authors are Dr. Joanne S. Harrell, professor of nursing at the UNC School of Nursing, Chrysse Bradley, research associate with the Carolina Population Center; and Shibing Deng, statistician in nursing. Other authors are Drs. Shrikant I. Bangdiwala, research associate professor of biostatistics at the UNC School of Public Health, and Amy Levine, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the UNC School of Medicine.

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Contact: David Williamson
david_williamson@unc.edu
919-962-3596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
26-Jul-2002


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