Fact. Active Kids Are Less Depressed.

Posted on March 5, 2024

You may know that an active kid is more likely to be a child who sleeps, studies and feels better, but research keeps piling up about other, longer-term benefits of ensuring children are moving more.

Previous studies have shown that adults and younger people who are physically active have a lower risk of developing depression. But the same effect has not been studied in children alone – until very recently.

Flex Kids

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and NTNU Social Research reported earlier this year that they followed hundreds of children over four years to see if they could find a correlation between physical activity and symptoms of depression.

Researchers examined just under 800 children when they were six years old and conducted follow-up examinations with about 700 of them when they were eight and ten years old.

“Being active, getting sweaty and roughhousing offer more than just physical health benefits. They also protect against depression,” said Tonje Zahl, a PhD candidate at NTNU.

Physically active six and eight-year-olds showed fewer symptoms of depression when they were examined two years later. Physical activity thus seems to protect against the development of depression.

Earlier, Deakin University researchers in Australia had found that being physically active in childhood could protect against depression even much later in life.

In a study of self-reported levels of physical activity and depression in 2152 women and men from south eastern Australia, researchers found that those reporting low physical activity levels as a child were 35 per cent more likely to report depression in adulthood compared to those reporting higher levels of physical activity in childhood. This association was apparent even after taking adult physical activity levels into account.

Dr Felice Jacka, a researcher with Deakin’s School of Medicine, said that being physically active as a child may be important to adult mental health.

“The results of our study suggest that physical activity may protect against the development of depression and supports the encouragement of regular physical activity in children,” Dr. Jacka said.

“Childhood is a period of rapid brain development and physical activity in early life may have beneficial effects on the developing brain through its impact on important brain proteins and oxidative stress.”

Heather Thomas Shalabi, Flex Director, says such findings are a clear indication of the importance of keeping kids active and engaged in regular movement.

“Slowly, the balance is shifting. Hours of slumping over a desk on academics is NOT considered superior to physical activity In terms of brain and character development.,” says Heather. “The damaging effects of this sedentary approach have been scientifically proven to impede academic performance.

“That’s why Flex offers non competitive, physical fitness to stimulate the nervous, skeletal and muscular systems, all under the auspices of “fun and de-stressing” movement experiences, which teach kids about physical and mental well being.”

Flex Kids and Teens is holding a comprehensive Open House Day on January 13, which will include free classes in AntiGravity®, Pilates and FREE postural screenings with registered chiropractor Gillian Tsang. For more information, visit: https://flexhk.com/flexkidsflexteens/ or email info@flexhk.com to book an appointment with Gillian on January 13.

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