Maintaining good muscle strength may help protect adolescents from heart disease and diabetes, new research indicates.
The finding published in Pediatrics is based on an analysis involving more than 1,400 10-to-12 year olds.
Between 2005 and 2008, the study authors screened the kids for cholesterol, blood sugar and triglyceride levels.
The 6th graders also reported their physical activity routines before undergoing body composition evaluations, fitness screenings, and muscle strength tests.
The result? Compared with the weakest boys and girls, the strongest teens carried less body fat and had smaller waists and fared better when it came to overall cardio-respiratory fitness.
They were also more likely to have a relatively low body mass index a key indicator of good health.
But the critical finding was that teens with the greatest pound-for-pound strength faced a significantly lower risk for heart trouble and diabetes.
The investigating team therefore concluded that teens should be encouraged to engage in both strength training and weight control in order to optimize adolescent health.
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