School-Related Physical Activity & Mental Health among Youth: A Review

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in Sports Medicine (2020) examined effects of interventions targeting school-related physical activity or sedentary behaviour on mental health in children and adolescents.

Results showed that there was a significant beneficial effect of school-related physical activity interventions on resilience, positive mental health, well-being and anxiety.

The authors concluded that given the positive effects of physical activity on health in general, school-based initiatives to increase physical activity seem likely.

While this study was limited to school-related physical activity, the broader implication is for physical activity to be promoted among children and adolescents in non-school settings and by other professionals including substance use prevention and mental health providers and parents.

Only by encouraging and supporting regular physical activity across multiple settings will youth likely benefit from improved physical and mental health.

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