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Pain may come with gain in childhood exercise

Irvine, Calif., Nov. 12, 2002 -- The phrase "no pain, no gain," used by coaches to prod school-age athletes, may have more meaning than they ever imagined, two UCI College of Medicine studies have found.

The studies appear in the October issues of Pediatrics and Pediatric Research and suggest new ways to mark the boundary between healthy and unhealthy exercise. The research also may help physicians and others develop optimal levels of exercise that may help stave off the current epidemic of obesity in adults and children.

Dr. Dan Cooper, professor of pediatrics, and his colleagues from the Center of the Study of Health Effects of Exercise in Children found that even a single, intense bout of exercise in teens and preteens raises levels of cellular chemicals that are usually associated with disease, while the same bout builds muscle mass and increases fitness.

"Physical activity in children gives two signals, one that marks a healthy response and one that may be telling us the exercise stress on the body has gone too far," said Cooper, a specialist in the effects of exercise on growth and development. "The healthy signals in cells help the body grow, build muscle mass and increase lung capacity. But the bad signals are catabolic. They actually encourage degradation of cells and are commonly linked to diseases. The mystery we need to solve is how much exercise is too much, and how much of these changes in signal levels are a normal product of development."

Cooper's team reported in the Pediatrics study that after 11 healthy teenage boys had a 90-minute strenuous wrestling practice session, levels of cell messengers called IGF-I and insulin, both indicators of growth, decreased at the same time as levels of inflammation-inducing messengers had robust increases. For example, Cooper's team found an eight-fold increase in a substance called IL-6. This substance is usually elevated in common diseases like colds and flus and in more seriou
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Contact: Andrew Porterfield
amporter@uci.edu
949-824-3969
University of California - Irvine
12-Nov-2002


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