Physical activity makes children healthier
Children who engage in regular exercise improve their mental health, reduce hyperactivity, and dampen their aggressivity. Physical activity even helps combat behaviours such as lying and stealing, as researchers from the University of Edinburgh and other British and American colleagues have found.
They came to those conclusions after tracking the physical activities of 4,755 eleven-year-olds using fitness trackers over an extended period.
The devices record moderate physical activity such as brisk walking or cycling, as well as vigorous activity that raises heart and breathing rates, such as aerobic exercises, jogging, or timed swimming. In analysing the effects of moderate to vigorous exercise on the mental health and behaviour of adolescents, the team also considered factors such as age, gender, and socioeconomic status.
Regular exercise, therefore, has a small but noticeable impact on reducing behavioural problems, even when other potential influences are eliminated. The results suggest that regular moderate activity, but especially intense physical activity, can have a protective effect on mental health in early adolescence, according to the researchers.
Improved academic performance thanks to activity
"Physical activity helps young people feel better and perform better in school. Supporting young people in leading healthy, active lives should be a priority," says Josie Booth from the Institute of Education and Sport at the Scottish University. Colleague John Reilly from the University of Strathclyde adds, "The results are also important because the level of moderate to vigorous intensity among adolescents worldwide is shockingly low." Less than one-third of them achieve the recommended 60 minutes per day as recommended by the WHO and British health ministries.