To Your Health
May, 2024 (Vol. 18, Issue 05)
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Kids Need Exercise

By Editorial Staff

Planting the seeds of lifelong physical fitness has benefits for children and adolescents that pay off right away in the form of mental health. That's the conclusion of a new study that assessed how physical fitness affects anxiety, depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in nearly 2 million children and adolescents (ages 10-11 when the study began).

Various physical fitness tests were used to assess "cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular endurance, muscular power (MP), and flexibility, measured through an 800-meter run time, bent-leg curl-ups, standing broad jump, and sit-and-reach test, respectively. ...Diagnoses of [anxiety, depression and ADHD] were based on clinical interviews conducted with parents and children by clinicians. These assessments also incorporated observations or evaluations by school teachers."

Kids Need Exercise - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Over a minimum of three years of follow-up, researchers determined that higher physical fitness levels are independently associated with a lower risk of having an anxiety disorder, depressive disorder or ADHD in children / adolescents. Cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness appeared to have the greatest impact on disorder risks, according to the researchers, whose findings were published in JAMA Pediatrics.

With screen time and sedentary behavior at an all-time high among children, it's no wonder their mental health is suffering, as this study emphasizes. The solution? Limit how much your kids sit around and maximize their opportunities to move!