Exercise is not only good for children’s height, but can stop bad behavior and improve mental health, a study has found.
Moderate-to-vigorous regular exercise reduced hyperactivity and behavioral problems, such as losing temper, fighting with other children, lying and stealing, in children aged 11 to 13 , according to the research.
They claim their paper is the first to offer such a comprehensive approach to examining mental health and exercise in young people.
Diagnoses of behavioral problems are common among American teens, but taking your kids away from their phones and playing outside might do the trick instead of medication.
ADHD drug sales skyrocketed during the pandemic when many were forced to spend hours indoors due to shutdowns, leading to continued shortages of Adderall.
Children who exercise are less likely to be hyperactive and have behavioral problems such as losing temper, fighting, lying and stealing, study finds (stock image)
The researchers explored data from the 1990s Children’s Study – also known as the Avon Longitudinal Parent Child Study – which looked at exercise levels in 4,755 11-year-old children in United Kingdom.
The study was conducted by researchers from the universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Bristol in the UK, and Georgia in the US.
Young people’s movements were measured using devices that recorded levels of moderate physical activity – generally defined as brisk walking or cycling – as well as vigorous activity that boosts heart rate and breathing, such as aerobic dancing, jogging or swimming.
Young people and their parents also reported their levels of depressive symptoms at ages 11 and 13, and parents and teachers were asked about the children’s general behavior and emotional difficulties.
In analyzing the impact of moderate to vigorous exercise on the mental health and behavior of young people, the team also took into account factors such as age, gender and socioeconomic status.
Higher levels of moderate or vigorous physical activity had a weak but detectable association with decreased depressive symptoms and emotional difficulties, according to findings published in Mental Health and Physical Activity.
The researchers said the findings suggest that regular moderate and vigorous physical activity may have a small protective influence on mental health in early adolescence.
Professor John Reilly, from the University of Strathclyde, said the findings are important because there are concerns about the level of exercise among teenagers today.
“Global levels of moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity are so low among pre-teens globally – less than a third reach the 60 minutes a day recommended by the WHO and the UK Health Service,” said he declared.
“While it may seem obvious that physical activity improves mental health, evidence of such a benefit in children and young people is sparse, so the study results are important.”
Dr Josie Booth, from the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education and Sport, said: “This study adds to the growing evidence base on the importance of physical activity for all aspects of youth development.
“It can help them feel better and do better in school.”
She added: “Helping young people lead healthy active lives should be a priority.”
Adderall is the most popular ADHD medication in the United States, with prescriptions reaching 41 million in 2021, a 10% increase from the previous year.
This includes millions of children and young adults. It is estimated that up to 10% of school children use drugs, as well as a third of students.
Online pharmacies drove prescriptions for the drug during the Covid pandemic, when many Americans were put on it to help them cope with the pressure.
But now demand is outstripping supply, with doctors reporting they now have to spend hours every day calling pharmacies to get the drug.
The problem is unique to the United States, with many other countries having much lower rates of ADHD in children.
They also tend to opt for an alternative drug, Ritalin, to treat patients.
Teenage girls who exercise daily have better attention spans
According to a study, teenage girls who exercise daily have better attention spans than their peers.
A research team from the University of Illinois found that girls who exercised less were slower and less accurate on tests that involved ignoring distracting information.
More blood flows to the brain during and after exercise, which boosts executive functioning, which includes a person’s attention span.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition comprising disturbances of attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
The disorder is much less likely to be diagnosed in girls than in boys, and some women do not receive a diagnosis until adulthood.
The prevalence of ADHD varies widely between the UK and the US, raising the question of whether the rates are as high as the diagnoses claim.
Between 2016 and 2019, 13% of American children between the ages of 12 and 17 were diagnosed with ADHD.
In comparable countries like the UK, ADHD rates are much lower – around 4% of boys and 1% of girls.
This is combined with the more sedentary lifestyles of American children, which has also caused the obesity crisis.
Many minors with ADHD have other conditions, including learning disabilities, anxiety, and depression.
Adderall is the most popular medication for ADHD. Prescriptions reached 4.1 million in 2021, a 10% increase from the previous year.