Staying Fit Boosts Kids’ Mental Health

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by HealthDay.

The benefits of physical fitness for kids spill over into their mental health, new research shows.

Getting plenty of exercise may guard against depressive symptoms, anxiety, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a new study published April 29 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found.

And the more exercise, the better: Higher performance in cardiovascular activities, strength, and muscular endurance were each associated with even greater protection against mental health issues.

The findings arrive as America continues to grapple with a surge in mental health diagnoses among children and adolescents.

The new study, conducted by researchers in Taiwan, compared data from the Taiwan National Student Fitness Tests and the National Insurance Research Database, which records medical claims, diagnoses, prescriptions, and other medical information. The researchers used the anonymous data to compare students’ physical fitness against their mental health.

The risk of mental health disorder was weighted against cardio fitness, as measured by a student’s time in an 800-meter run; muscle endurance, indicated by the number of sit-ups performed; and muscle power, measured by the standing broad jump.

What did they discover? Higher performance in each activity was linked with a lower risk of a mental health disorder. For instance, a 30-second decrease in the 800-meter time was associated with a lower risk of anxiety, depression, and ADHD in girls. In boys, it was associated with lower anxiety and a lower risk of ADHD.

“These findings suggest the potential of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness as protective factors in mitigating the onset of mental health disorders among children and adolescents,” the researchers wrote in the study.

Source: HealthDay

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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