A new study found that children’s muscles and ability to recover after bouts of high-intensity exercise are just as sharp as those of endurance athletes.
The new study analyzed the muscles of small boys, men, and professional athletes to see how quickly they recovered after high-intensity exercise.
The findings appeared this week in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.
Study authors asked participants to perform high-intensity exercise on a stationary bike. The team found that the small boys’ muscles needed more time to tire than those of untrained men. Small boys looked just as fit as elite endurance athletes.
The picture we get is that, in a high-intensity exercise bout, kids fatigue at the same rate as elite athletes,
lead author Tony Blazevich said.
Blazevich believes that children can recover even faster than professional athletes, which may explain why children seem to never get tired after multiple bouts of play.
Children’s Secret to Staying Fit
Critics of the study noted that the findings do not suggest that children are as fit as elite endurance athletes. Researcher Tim Olds of the University of South Australia said that the study only found that children recover nearly as fast as professional athletes and much faster than untrained adults.
Olds explained that kids have so much energy and tend to recover so fast because of the way their bodies generate energy. Children’s bodies cannot generate energy through anaerobic processes as much as adults’ bodies do.
Producing energy anaerobically generates high levels of lactate in the muscles, which leads to fatigue, the Australian professor explained. As a result, kids’ systems don’t produce as much lactic acid so they tend to get tired more slowly than adults.
Olds insisted that children are not born super fit. It just means that they haven’t reached their full anaerobic capacity.
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