Physical activity and blood pressure in primary school children: a longitudinal study

Gemma Knowles, Miranda Pallan, G Neil Thomas, Ulf Ekelund, Kar Keung Cheng, Timothy Barrett, Peymane Adab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


High blood pressure (BP) is becoming increasingly common during childhood. Regular physical activity (PA) reduces BP in adults, but limited studies have reported inconsistent results among children. The aim of this study is to examine, for the first time, the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between BP and objectively measured PA in young children of predominantly South Asian background. Data from the Birmingham healthy Eating and Active lifestyle for CHildren Study were analyzed. Five hundred seventy-four children, aged 5 to 7 years, underwent a series of measures at baseline and were followed up 2 years later. PA was objectively measured using accelerometry and converted to counts per minute (total PA, cpm), and time spent in moderate-vigorous PA (minutes per day). BP was measured by trained staff using standard protocols. Data were available for 512 children at baseline (mean age 6.5 years, range 5.4-7.8 years), and 427 of these children were followed up. Baseline total PA was inversely associated with diastolic BP at both baseline (adjusted regression coefficient: -0.75 mm Hg [95% CI -1.33 to -0.18] per 20 cpm) and follow-up (-0.74 mm Hg [95% CI -1.40 to -0.08]). All associations remained unchanged after further adjustment for weight status. This study strengthens evidence of a causal association between higher PA and lower BP in children as young as 5, independent of weight status. The results provide support for development of interventions to increase PA in young children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-5
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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