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When it comes to fitness, kids are just as good as top athletes

When it comes to fitness, kids are just as good as top athletes
When it comes to fitness, kids are just as good as top athletes

Children do not get tired, even if they are romping, jumping, and sprinting all day long. When it comes to sheer stamina, children can also compete with top athletes, as a new study has shown. There are some good reasons for that.

As researchers have already found in the past, children's bodies are extremely good at providing energy. This has been shown in several studies in which children left young adults behind.

A recent study by the Université Clermont Auvergne has shown that ten-year-old children can compete with competitive athletes in terms of stamina and recovery.

The researchers had three groups competing against each other on an ergometer. The first group was boys between eight and twelve, who had not completed any specialized sports training. The second group was twelve, untrained men aged 19 to 23 years. Finally, the third group included cyclists, long-distance runners, and triathletes who had already participated in national competitions.

Each competitor had to pedal as hard as he could during the so-called Wingate Test for a period of 30 seconds. During and after this physical exertion, different values were observed.

Children recovered faster

The researchers were particularly interested in which source of energy the body used. Because in the best-case scenario, the energy is generated by oxygen from the blood. However, if the muscles are in such demand that the oxygen runs out, the body automatically switches over to anaerobic energy production. This is less efficient because the anaerobic energy production produces waste materials, such as lactate, which is tiring the muscles.

Basically, the better the athlete is trained, the longer the athlete can stay in the aerobic level. However, children who are not in training seem to have the same ability. Those children were able to stay much longer at the aerobic level; then, it was the cause of untrained adults. Children did not tire so fast, even if they were extremely exhausted.

Also, the researchers were interested in how quickly the body recovers after the effort. They measured the heart rate, among other things, as well as the amount of lactate present in the blood. The result: In all tests, the children performed much better than the young adults. The children's hearts calmed down faster, and the lactate in the blood had broken down more quickly.

A shortcoming: Bad movements

As shown in previous studies, children still have another advantage over adults: the proportion of dark muscle fibres is relatively high. Although these respond more slowly to stimuli, it also takes longer, until they tire. Thus, children compensate for the disadvantages they have over adults, such as the lower cardiovascular capacity.

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