Leisure-Time Physical Activity and Mental Health of Youth

Leisure-Time Physical Activity and Mental Health of Youth

A large-scale study found a positive association between leisure-time physical activity and mental health among youth.

The paper was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports (2022) and examined associations of leisure-time moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and active school transport with mental health among 15- to 16-year-old adolescents. 

Key findings suggest that leisure-time moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is associated with better mental health in a dose–response manner.

Even the smallest dose, 30 weekly minutes, was linked to 17% lower odds of chronic stress symptoms compared to inactivity. 

Compared to non-active transportation, more than 30 min of daily active school transport yielded 19% and 33% higher odds of depression symptoms and school psychologist visits, respectively. 

The authors concluded that the findings emphasize the importance of providing high-quality, enjoyable leisure physical activity opportunities for all youth—even the small doses can make a difference, and that promoting walking or cycling to school can improve physical fitness and cardiometabolic health among adolescents.

We believe integrating the promotion of leisure and other types of physical activity and transportation within substance use prevention and intervention programs could further enhance the mental health of participating youth.

Read the entire study: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/sms.14292

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