Get kids moving! Activity helps fight off depression, study says
Being active and getting sweaty offers more than just physical health benefits for young children.
A new study shows this kind of physical activity also protects against depression. We're talking about moderate to vigorous physical activity that leaves kids sweaty or out of breath.
Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and NTNU Social Research have followed hundreds of children over four years to see if they could find a correlation between physical activity and symptoms of depression.
Researchers examined nearly 800 children when they were 6-years-old, and conducted follow-up examinations with about 700 of them when they were 8- and 10-years-old. Physical activity was measured with accelerometers, which served as a kind of advanced pedometer, and parents were interviewed about their children's mental health.
"Being active, getting sweaty and roughhousing offer more than just physical health benefits. They also protect against depression," says Tonje Zahl, a PhD candidate at NTNU. She is first author of the article on the study findings, which was recently published in the February 2017 issue of Pediatrics.
Physically active 6- and 8-year-olds showed fewer symptoms of depression when they were examined two years later.
"This is important to know, because it may suggest that physical activity can be used to prevent and treat depression already in childhood," says Silje Steinsbekk, associate professor in NTNU's Department of Psychology.
Steinsbekk stresses that these results should now be tested in randomized studies where researchers increase children's physical activity and examine whether those who participate in these measures have fewer symptoms of depression over time than those who do not participate.
So the message to parents and health professionals is: Facilitate physical activity, which means that children get a little sweaty and breathless. Try a bike ride or outdoor play. Limiting children's TV or iPad screen time is not enough. Children need actual increased physical activity.
An estimated 30,000 kids are living with cardiomyopathy, and there are countless children who have this potentially life-threatening heart disease and do not know it. Could your young athlete be at risk for sudden cardiac arrest?
New research sheds light on practice tips for players who favor waiting for the goalkeeper to move before deciding on the direction of their kick
Helping young athletes dial into the process – not the outcome – is crucial for their enjoyment and development in the sport. Abby Keenan, co-founder of Intrepid Performance Consulting, shares how to make it happen
Researchers show that regular physical activity without shoes may improve children's balancing and jumping skill