Physical Fitness Linked to Better Mental Health in Young People

The new study, conducted by researchers in Taiwan, compared data from two large data sets: Taiwan’s National Student Physical Fitness Tests, which measure students’ physical performance in schools, and the National Student Physical Fitness Tests. Insurance Investigation, which records medical claims, diagnoses, prescriptions and other medical data. information. The researchers did not have access to the students’ names, but were able to use the anonymized data to compare the students’ physical fitness and mental health outcomes.

The risk of mental health disorder was compared with three physical fitness metrics: cardiovascular fitness, measured by a student’s time in an 800-meter race; muscular endurance, indicated by the number of sit-ups performed; and muscular power, measured by the standing broad jump.

Better performance in each activity was related to a lower risk of mental health disorder. For example, a 30-second decrease in 800-meter time was associated, in girls, with a lower risk of anxiety, depression, and ADHD. In children, it was associated with lower anxiety and risk of suffering from the disorder.

An increase of five squats per minute was associated with lower anxiety and risk of the disorder in boys, and with lower risk of depression and anxiety in girls.

“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 journal article.

Physical and mental health They were already supposed to be linkedThey added, but previous research had relied heavily on questionnaires and self-reports, while the new study relied on independent assessments and objective standards.

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General Surgeon Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, has called mental health “the defining public health crisis of our time.” and has made adolescent mental health central to its mission. In 2021 she issued a rare public notice on the issue. Statistics from the time revealed alarming trends: From 2001 to 2019, the suicide rate for Americans ages 10 to 19 increased by 40 percent and emergency visits related to self-harm increased by 88 percent.

Some policy makers and researchers have attributed the sharp increase to the intensive use of social networks, but research has been limited and findings sometimes contradictory. Other experts theorize that heavy screen use has affected teens’ mental health by crowding out sleep, exercise, and personal activity, all of which are considered vital for healthy development. The new study appeared to support the link between physical fitness and mental health.

“The finding underscores the need for more research on specific fitness programs,” the authors concluded. These programs, they added, “have significant potential as primary preventive interventions against mental disorders in children and adolescents.”

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