Proper Exercise Can Help Kids with Mental Difficulties



Physical activities help children have strong muscles and bones, tone their body, and reduce the risk of ailments such as diabetes, obesity, and other conditions. However, there is more to exercise than the physical benefits to the body. Exercise is essential for enhancing mental health in children particularly those that experience psychological difficulties. Physical activities can help ease and cure the negative symptoms of mental disorders like depression, sadness, stress, and ADHD in children. Through exercise, children can enhance their academic performance, self-esteem, concentration, and memory. Here are some positive ways exercise benefits kids.


1. Exercise helps alleviate symptoms of depression in kids

Various studies show that exercise is as effective as antidepressants medication in the management of mild to moderate depression. The upside is there are no side effects as are with medication. While exercise alone does not cure depression, it eases some symptoms of depression in kids.

According to research, kids who had opportunities to participate in sports and physical activities outside class had reduced chances of experiencing depressive symptoms. Physically active kids between six and eight years showed fewer symptoms of depression upon examination two years later. The results could mean that exercising can help prevent children from developing depression later in life.

2. Exercise distracts kids from negative thoughts and stress

Researchers believe that regular physical activities affect how the brain distributes its resources. For example, with exercises, the brain tends to shift its resources from brain areas that are involved in worrying and directs them to areas involved in coordination and attention. Physical activities enhance mood in kids by improving their brain’s capacity to cope with stress.

3. Exercise helps kids improve their self-image

Children enjoy fun physical activities such as dancing, jumping, stretching, playing, and jogging. The engagement, learning, and fan associated with these activities make the children continue being active in their life. Kids who have difficulty focusing on education because they don’t appreciate their bodies develop a positive body image. It happens when they discover and appreciate what their bodies’ can do rather than how their body looks. Regular exercise makes people feel strong, healthy, and fit. It tones the body and makes children physically attractive. All these make kids feel more beautiful and hence enhance their confidence.

4. Exercise helps reduce anxiety in children and improve relations

Heightened anxiety occurs, especially when you focus on things that induce anxiety. Consequently, you become more anxious and the cycle continues. Exercise and help anxious children break out of the vicious cycle of anxiety and lead a healthy life. The physical activities teach children new skills and demand their focus.

Focusing on learning and exercising diverts children’s attention from negative thoughts and creates in them a sense of accomplishment. The result is a confident kid with reduced anxiety. Loner kids find it challenging to make friends. By engaging in team sports, these kids find companions and have a sense of belonging. Games help children deal with social pressures and anxiety that come with socializing. Through team sporting, children gain confidence and learn to work with others towards a common goal. They also learn to make friends through team activities in school and beyond school.

5. Exercise helps improve focus in children with ADHD

Children who partake in an increased number of physical activity sessions show improved brain and cognitive function. Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can also improve their attention through physical exercise.

A study focusing on exercise and ADHD showed children with ADHD as well as the control, responded with accuracy to attention control tasks following a session of exercise. The accuracy was lower when the children performed the attention control task after a seated reading session. The result also showed enhanced academic performance on arithmetic and reading comprehension tests after an exercise session than after a seated session. The research results suggest that short sessions of moderate aerobic exercise can supplement treatment modes for ADHD in children.

6. Exercise builds skills and confidence

Exercise helps enhance children’s skills and develop confidence. When kids engage in activities such as ball games, dancing, skating, martial arts, and others, they learn new skills. They improve their physical strength and learned skills.

Learning new skills creates a sense of accomplishment in a child and improves his or her confidence and self-worth. By participating in team activities such as team sports, children get encouragement from their peers and coaches as well as parents when they come to see them play. This encouragement enhances the confidence of the children. Team games also help children learn social skills.

7. Exercise improves mood

Regular physical activities alter the chemistry of the brain, particularly increasing the levels of neurotransmitters. The brain secretes more of the following chemicals when the child engages in regular physical activities. 

Endorphins

Endorphins (also called feel-good chemicals) are the body’s natural opiates. They give kids a positive mindset towards life and feeling of happiness that prolongs for hours after engaging in exercise. 

Serotonin

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that serves to balance mood and help fight depression. Exercise causes the brain to secrete more serotonin, which can help children battle the feelings of sadness and depression. The neurotransmitters help improve mood and capacity for one to control his or her behavior. With an enhanced mood and self-regulation, children benefit from mental wellbeing, which this translates to better performance in the classroom.

Vitamin D

Aside from neurotransmitters, vitamin D helps with mood. When children exercise outdoors, they benefit from exposure to the sun. Their bodies can synthesize vitamin D. Deficiency in vitamin D can lead to feelings of sadness and depression. An increase in vitamin D may ease feelings of sadness and depression.

Parents should encourage their kids to participate in physical exercises at school and home. You do not have to schedule an intense activity session for your kids. Parents can include exercise in usual activities. For example, parents can walk with kids instead of using the car, take the stairs, and make these become regular health habits for you and the kids. Kids can walk or cycle to school. School settings should also facilitate and promote physical activities.


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