Exercise benefits children

Two new studies published recently in the journal Paediatrics, show how exercise can help children combat depression as well as behavioural disorders.

Physical activity strengthens a child’s muscles and bones, prevents excessive weight gain, and reduces the risk of diabetes, cancer, and other conditions. However, physical activity is also beneficial to the mental health of a child.

Experts say exercise gives children a better outlook on life by building confidence, managing anxiety and depression, and increasing self-esteem and cognitive skills.

The benefits of physical activity for children were assessed in two studies. Both analysed the positive effects of exercise on children’s mental well-being.

One study concluded that moderate to vigorous physical activity at ages 6 and 8 is linked to fewer symptoms of depression two years later.

The other study looked at cyber cycling (involving riding an exercise bike while looking at virtual reality scenery) and concluded that cyber cycling improves classroom functioning for children with behavioural disorders.

Children with Behavioural Health Disorders (BHD) demonstrate low participation in aerobic exercise, and cyber cycling was important because the children found it engaging. Many of these children have sensory disorders, social anxiety, and delays in developing motor skills, so it’s difficult to make traditional sports and exercise programs attractive to them.

Research shows exercise improves mood and behaviour in children and lowers chronic disease risks, but there is little research on educational settings serving children with complex BHD, the study explained.

The researchers investigated whether an aerobic cyber cycling physical education curriculum could successfully engage and improve behavioural regulation and classroom functioning among children and adolescents with complex BHD.

Students diagnosed with autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, or mood disorders were randomly assigned to use the bikes twice a week during 30- to 40-minute physical education classes. Researchers found the program to be successful as children gradually increased their riding time and intensity over seven weeks.

Overall, children in the intervention group, who ranged in ages 7 to 16, displayed up to 51 percent less disruptive behaviours than during the control period, with the effect particularly strong on the days they participated in the cyber-cycling class, the study reports, demonstrating there appears to be a direct correlation between this type of exercise and improvement in behavioural health.

Source: https://www.healthline.com

24 May, 2020

2 thoughts on “Exercise benefits children

  1. Exercise is clearly a massive benefit to everyone, including children, but these studies make the link with cyber cycling and children with behavioural problems and that is invaluable.

    I am trying to walk most days and over the last few weeks I have noticed a difference in my overall health. That’s about the only positive thing I can think of to come out of lock down.

    1. Thanks. Yes, more people are getting out and walking more because of lock down. Exercise is invaluable and good habits must start in childhood.

      Growing up running around the street and kicking a ball was included in that. But I believe there is a correlation between behaviour and exercise, particularly in children who have an attention deficit disorder such as ADHD.

      I also think routine matters. The more children are in a routine that is centred around exercise, the more exercise they will participate in.

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