Pumped Up Kids

Muscular fitness tied to fewer chronic inflammatory signs among teenagers

(RxWiki News) Having strong muscles is good for everyone. Building up muscle strength can help prevent injury. And now it seems that increased muscle strength may be linked with reduced risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.

A recent study found that, as muscular fitness increased among teenagers, signs of inflammation went down.

Inflammation has been tied to heart disease and other illnesses. According to the authors of this study, there's a good amount of evidence that risks for heart disease can begin in childhood, even if symptoms don't appear until later in life.

This study showed that muscular fitness may play a role in lowering chronic inflammation among teenagers.

"Make muscle strengthening a part of your exercise routine."

The aim of this study, led by Enrique Artero, PhD, from the Department of Medical Physiology at the University of Granada in Spain, was to see how teen's muscular fitness was linked with signs of inflammation, or biomarkers in the body.

Previous studies have found that muscular strength, body fat and cardiorespiratory (systems of the heart and lungs) are linked with chronic inflammation. 

The current study included 639 adolescents from nine European countries who ranged between 12.5 and 17.5 years of age. About a third of the participants were boys.

These teens were categorized by age and whether or not they were overweight.

The teens underwent a fitness test examining their handgrip strength and how far they could jump from a standstill position. The test also included a 20-meter, or about 65.5 feet, shuttle run to test their cardiorespiratory fitness.

The researchers tracked certain proteins and blood cells in each of the participants. Participants' age, gender and stage of puberty were also taken into account. All data was collected between 2006 and 2007.

As muscular fitness increased, the researchers found that single and clustered inflammatory biomarkers decreased.

The ties between muscular fitness and biomarker presence remained significant after taking cardiovascular fitness and insulin resistance into account.

The researchers said that the lower inflammation levels in adolescents with a lot of muscle could be from having less body fat.

"The lower inflammatory status in adolescents with higher levels of muscular fitness seems to be explained by lower levels of fatness," the researchers wrote in their report. "Interestingly, overweight and obese adolescents may exhibit a less adverse profile if they maintain appropriate levels of muscular fitness."

Muscle fitness, diet and metabolism all impact fatness level either directly or indirectly, according to Rusty Gregory, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and dailyRx Contributing Expert.

"A life-long fitness program started early in life helps to prevent inflammation throughout the body that leads to disease," Gregory said. "Even fitness programs started later in life help keep inflammation to a minimum."

The researchers noted that their study did not explain why there were fewer signs of inflammation among adolescents with a greater fitness level.

Other limitations to the study, according to the authors, included drawing blood samples from the participants only once. In addition, the components that make up the inflammatory score for each participant were not weighted and calculated as accurately as possible.

This study was published online July 5 in the journal Pediatric Obesity.

No conflicts of interest were declared. The study was funded by the Spanish Ministries of Education and Science and Innovation, and Health.

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Review Date: 
July 11, 2013