Published this week in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers followed 258 boys and girls, aged 8. Children wore accelerometers for 4 days that measured the quality and quantity of their physical activity. Parents were also told to swab their children’s’ mouths throughout the day, so that researchers could measure levels of cortisol, a type of hormone that is usually secreted in response to levels of stress. Children were also given psychosocial assessments to further determine stress levels.
Interestingly, the cortisol differences between the kids who sat at home and the kids who got out of the house more showed negligible statistical differences. But, when brought into the clinic and given arithmetic and storytelling challenges, the couch potatoes showed significantly raised cortisol levels when compared to their more active compatriots.
While we are confident in any study asserting that exercise and mental health are related, we wonder if a study more longitudinal in nature would not have yielded better results.
Side note: less that 29% of children in our country are getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
Our counselors always encourage physical activity and healthy eating as a component of any mental healthcare. We also recommend that mental healthcare should be a component of any healthcare plan.
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