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Kids Are as Fit as Endurance Athletes


Kids Are as Fit as Endurance Athletes

Ever wondered why kids can run around all day and play, without wearing themselves out? A new study says it could be because their muscles fight fatigue and recover faster than elite athletes.
Published in Frontiers in Physiology journal, the Edith Cowan University and Université Clermont Auvergne study revealed that children’s muscles are resistant to fatigue – and repair at an incredible rate.
"During many physical tasks, children might tire earlier than adults because they have limited cardiovascular capability, tend to adopt less-efficient movement patterns and need to take more steps to move a given distance,” said study authors Sébastien Ratel and Anthony Blazevich.
“Our research shows children have overcome some of these limitations through the development of fatigue-resistant muscles and the ability to recover very quickly from high-intensity exercise."
While the researchers suspected kids had similar energy profiles to endurance athletes, this was the first time they were able to provide evidence.

How was the discovery made?

To test their theory, the team tested three groups: one group of 8-12 year olds and one group of adults who didn’t do vigorous exercise, as well as one group of endurance athletes who competed in triathlons, or long-distance cycling and running.
All groups had their energy profiles tested: both aerobic and anaerobic systems. The researchers also tested heart rate, oxygen levels, and lactate-removal rates (lactate, sometimes incorrectly called lactic acid, is produced during anaerobic activity).
Incredibly, the kids did better than the adults across all groups.
“We found the children used more of their aerobic metabolism and were therefore less tired during the high-intensity physical activities," said Ratel.
“They also recovered very quickly – even faster than the well-trained adult endurance athletes – as demonstrated by their faster heart-rate recovery and ability to remove blood lactate."
"This may explain why children seem to have the ability to play and play and play, long after adults have become tired."

How to get kids involved in sports

The researchers say since kids have impressive muscle endurance, “it might be better to focus on other areas of fitness such as their sports technique, sprint speed or muscle strength. This may help to optimise physical training in children, so that they perform better and enjoy sports more."


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