Teen girls 'risk hearts sitting for 20 hours a day'
TEENAGE girls spend almost 20 hours a day either sitting or lying down, which may cause a risk to their hearts, researchers have found.
But the University of Limerick team hope they can follow up their findings with a study into how much exercise is needed to make a difference to their health.
In the first associated study, Professor Alan Donnelly and his team found that girls spend an average of 19 hours a day either sitting or lying down.
Further Irish Heart Foundation-funded research will take a new and different approach – instead of a focus on sport and high-intensity activity, it will examine the effects of sitting, and the potential effects of light physical activity.
The proportion of adolescents who are overweight and obese is rising in many developed nations, and Ireland is no exception, with one in five Irish adolescents being overweight or obese.
This is likely to increase the risk of these adolescents developing heart and arterial disease as they age, according to Professor Donnelly of the Centre for Physical Activity and Health Research at the University of Limerick.
"There is evidence that children and adolescents have become more inactive in recent times, as heavy physical chores and active transport have decreased, and seated activities like watching TV, social networking and gaming have increased," he said.
"To date, the response to this has been to encourage adolescents to engage in sport or other high-intensity activities, but many adolescents find this difficult to sustain."
He continued: "There is no doubt that performing moderate or vigorous physical activity is good for the long-term health of adolescents. However, we believe that long periods of sitting might be a separate risk factor.
"Replacing some of this sitting time with light activity might be an effective means of improving health risk and reducing the risk of obesity in these adolescents."