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  • You're Not Crazy, Moms: Kids Have Better Endurance Than Athletes, According To A Study

    This might just explain how kids manage to play tirelessly.
    by Kate Borbon .
You're Not Crazy, Moms: Kids Have Better Endurance Than Athletes, According To A Study
PHOTO BY iStock
  • There’s no doubt that kids seem to have endless amounts of energy and never get tired. Now research proves that this is not something only exhausted parents think: According to a 2018 study, children have endurance levels that are greater than those of professional athletes!

    Published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, the study involved having 12 boys between the ages of eight and 12 years, 12 untrained men, and 13 endurance athletes (either national-level triathlon competitors or long-distance runners and cyclists) do high-intensity exercises and looking into how quickly they would get tired.

    The researchers assessed the participants based on the two ways the body produces energy: aerobic, which is when oxygen is carried by the blood to the muscles; and anaerobic, which relies on energy stores that are already present in the body. The Telegraph says that anaerobic exercise produces lactate (lactic acid), which causes muscle fatigue.

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    The Huffington Post reports that the participants were first asked to do two seven-second sprints, followed by one minute for recovery during which their aerobic energy output was measured.

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    Next, they were asked to do the Wingate Cycle Test, where they had to cycle as fast as they could for 30 seconds. This part of the research measured the participants’ anaerobic output.

    The researchers evaluated the participants’ heart rate, oxygen levels, and lactate removal rates after the tasks to see how quickly they recovered.

    According to The Telegraph, the kids were found to have “fatigue-resistant muscles” and were able to recover quickly from high-intensity exercise, even faster than the professional athletes.

    The children also outperformed the adults in the cycling test: Their power output only decreased by 35.2%, while the untrained men’s power output fell by 51.8% and the athletes’ power output fell by 41.8%.

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    “We found the children used more of their aerobic metabolism and were therefore less tired during the high-intensity physical activities,” says Sebastien Ratel, associate professor in exercise physiology at the Université Clermont Auvergne in France.

    “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.”

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    Dr. Ratel adds that this study also led to another finding, which is that “aerobic fitness, at least at the muscle level, decreases significantly as children move into adulthood — which is around the time increases in diseases such as diabetes occur.

    “It will be interesting in future research to determine whether the muscular changes we have observed are directly related to disease risk. At least, our results might provide motivation for practitioners to maintain muscle fitness as children grow up; it seems that being a child might be healthy for us.”

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