Youth Physical Activity and Mental Health

A study published in the European Journal of Public Health (2021) examined the longitudinal association between physical activity patterns between childhood and early adolescence and emotional-behavioural difficulties in later adolescence (n=4618). 

Results showed that those categorized as Inactive (n=1607) or Reducer (n=1662) were more than twice as likely to have emotional-behavioural difficulties at age 17 compared with those who were Active. 

Among those with emotional-behavioural difficulties at baseline (n=525), those categorized as Active had 2.3-fold reduced odds for emotional-behavioural problems at age 17 compared with those who were Inactive. 

The authors concluded that increasing physical activity among adolescents is a safe and sustainable public health intervention associated with improved mental health. 

Unfortunately, less than a quarter of high school adolescents are getting the recommended one-hour of physical activity every day according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

This study’s findings suggest that increasing physical activity may both prevent and alleviate mental health problems among adolescents. 

Efforts to increase physical activity should be included within mental health promotion programs to enhance the mental and physical wellbeing of young people. 

Read the study paper: https://academic.oup.com/eurpub/article/31/1/167/5974959?login=true

 

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