This study, published in JAMA Network (2021), examined the association of physical activity, screen time and mental health of 1000 US youth ages 6-17 years old during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Results showed young children (ages 6-10 years old) engaging in 7 d/wk (vs 0) of physical activity was associated with fewer externalizing symptoms.
Adolescents (ages 7-17 years old) engaging in 1 to 6 and 7 d/wk (vs 0) of physical activity was associated with lower total difficulties, fewer externalizing symptoms and fewer internalizing symptoms.
More screen time was correlated with higher total difficulties among younger and older youth.
The researchers concluded that physical activity and screen time constitute potential health promotion targets to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on the mental health and well-being of youth.
Over 3 in 4 adolescents in the US do not receive the required amount of daily physical activity, which may reduce their mental and physical well-being.
That’s why Prevention Plus Wellness advocates for substance use prevention programs that also target the promotion of wellness habits including physical activity and sports, healthy eating, sleep and stress control.
By addressing multiple health risk factors and teaching youth how various health behaviors interact and influence each other, prevention and health professionals and organizations will realize greater improvements on the public health of American youth.
View the research paper: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2784611