Is Your Child A Superstar Endurance Athlete?

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Written By Farid Shojaei

If you are struggling to keep up with your kids who are bursting with energy and seem to run all day, then give up because you might as well try to keep pace with a super athlete.

A new study has revealed that children have the same performance and recovery levels as elite endurance athletes.

Which means you might as well give up chasing them around because you won’t have the fitness to keep up unless you have trained as a superstar athlete.

For the study, the researchers wanted to find out why kids can run all day and never seem to tire, so compared the fitness of 12 boys aged between the age of 8 and 12 years old with a group of untrained men and a third group of 13 top athletes.

Quicker recovery for children

“We found the children used more of their aerobic metabolism and were therefore less tired during the high-intensity physical activities,” said Sebastien Ratel, associate professor in exercise physiology who completed this study at the University 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.”

Each group was asked to sprint twice for seven seconds with a one-minute recovery then they were had to cycle as fast as they could for 30 seconds.

Packed with energy

The assessment looked at two ways the body generates energy:

  • Aerobic – which uses oxygen from the blood
  • Anaerobic – which uses no oxygen but generates acidosis and lactate which can cause painful muscle fatigue.

The research team also checked each participant’s heart-rate, oxygen levels and lactate-removal rates after the cycling to measure how quickly they recovered.

Children outperformed the untrained men in every test.

In recovery, they outperformed the athletes.

During the exercise cycle, the adults’ energy levels dropped by 51.8%, that of the athletes by 41.8%, while the children only decreased by 35.2%.