Want to Decrease Your Child's Stress and Lower His Heart Disease Risk? Have Him Walk to School

A simple morning walk to school could reduce stress reactivity in children during the school day, curbing increases in heart rate and blood pressure that can lead to cardiovascular disease later in life, according to a new University at Buffalo study.

UB researchers report in the August 2010 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise that children who took a simulated walk to school later experienced smaller elevations in systolic blood pressure, heart rate and perceived stress while taking a short exam than children who had gotten a simulated ride to school.

"The cardiovascular disease process begins in childhood, so if we can find some way of stopping or slowing that process, that would provide an important health benefit," says James Roemmich, UB associate professor of pediatrics and exercise and nutrition science and senior investigator on the study.

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