University of Georgia researchers discovered that 75% of teenagers don’t exercise enough. Research revealed that male students were more likely to engage in physical activity than female students. What was the result? A decrease in general well-being increased anxiety and many other things.
The research team suggested that students could get more exercise if they had better school environments. Positive school environments can encourage students to adopt healthy habits. Janani R. Thapa, the study’s lead researcher, stated that these include eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
Thapa, an associate professor of public health policy management at UGA’s College of Public Health, stated that recess length, physical facilities, and school social environment could affect students’ physical activity.
The study led to Georgia adopting policies and programs encouraging daily exercise in schools K-12. Thapa is the principal evaluator of these programs.
She said that while the state has seen a decline in physical activity over time among adolescents, it has noticed a higher rate among middle- and high-school girls.
Thapa believes healthy schools will encourage students to be more active in sports. Thapa suggested that students would be more likely to get more exercise if they felt more confident. School climate should include safety, bullying, support, and social interaction.
Students who feel accepted and included by their peers are more likely to engage in regular physical activity. But, this was before this study. Researchers didn’t know how school climate impacted students’ daily exercise.
Thapa stated, “we don’t know much about how school climate affects physical activity.” Thapa said that, sure, students must have faced barriers. We wanted to examine the gender differences.
In This Article
The Study Reveals Teens’ Daily Exercise Habits
The data was gathered from a survey that included over 360,000 high school students in Georgia. The survey asked about daily exercise habits and school climate. Thapa and her coworkers used this data to test the relationship between school climate and physical activity.
Eight factors were used to measure school climate:
- school connectedness
- Adult social support
- peer social support
- Physical environment
- School support environment
- school safety
- Cultural acceptance
- Bullying and peer victimization
According to the survey, female students were less active than their male counterparts. Only 35% of female students reported being active, compared with 57% of males. In the 9-12th grades, physical activity declined dramatically for both male and female students.
Students of both genders were more likely to engage in daily exercise in positive schools. Researchers found that bullying had a significant impact on physical activity.
Students who were bullied received more exercise each day. Male students who were forced didn’t get as much exercise. The research team found that bullying impacted male and female students differently. Similarities were also found in other measures of school climate.
According to the authors, bullying disparities may be due to gender stereotypes. Concerning exercise, more active females are better than less active males.
Thapa stated, “For example, female students who participate in sports and are physically active might not fit the gender norm, and thus may be bullied.”
These findings suggest that school districts must improve their school environments to encourage students to exercise more often. They could, for example, focus on student safety and acceptance and promote exercise programs. Physical activity will attract students who feel comfortable and safe at school.
Exercise can reduce anxiety and suicidal thoughts in teens.
Teens can improve their physical and mental health by exercising. Research shows teens can improve their mental health through regular physical activity. Researchers are trying to find a solution for anxiety in teens. Researchers have discovered that mindfulness and lifestyle changes like increasing exercise can reduce stress.
One study by University of Vermont researchers showed that bullying teens who exercise regularly have better mental health. Research showed that teens who exercised at least four times per week had a 23% decrease in suicide attempts.
“I was shocked that it was so significant and that the positive effects of exercise extended into kids trying to harm their own,” stated lead author Jeremy Sibold, associate professor and chair of the Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science.
“Even if only one child is protected because we got them involved after-school or in a fitness program it was worth it.”
Students can still benefit from daily exercise in other ways. Students who aren’t interested in sports might prefer to do solitary activities such as yoga or Tai Chi. Research has shown that mindfulness exercises can reduce stress and promote mental well-being.
These findings were confirmed by a study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. The study revealed that yoga classes could improve mood and reduce anxiety among high school students. Children can also benefit from yoga’s psychological effects, which can help to build resilience and improve emotional regulation.
According to the World Health Organization, adolescents should exercise moderately to vigorously for at least an hour daily. The study shows that many teens do not meet these guidelines.
Many schools have stopped offering physical education and emphasized academics. Daily exercise could improve academic performance and increase the well-being of children and teens. Because of the overwhelming evidence, school districts might mandate physical activity once again.
Last Thoughts: Study shows that most teens don’t get enough exercise
Recent research by the University of Georgia revealed alarming facts about teens’ physical fitness. For various reasons, 75% of teens don’t exercise daily. Many schools have stopped offering physical education classes and emphasized the importance of curriculum development.
Sedentary lifestyles are causing anxiety and mental illness in children and teens. This trend could be reversed by creating positive school environments and encouraging physical activity. Teenagers need to have the opportunity to study a variety of subjects but not at the cost of their physical health.
The bottom line
Overall, female students were less active than their male counterparts. Only 35% were active, compared to 57% of males. Both genders saw a steady decline in physical activity from the ninth to the 12th grades.
However, students of both genders were more active when the school climate was positive in most measures.
One thing that stood out was bullying’s influence. Bullying was more common in female students than it was in male students.
Bullying was the only indicator of school climate that varied between male and female students. According to the authors, this disparity could be explained by differences in exercise norms and feminine ideals.
Thapa stated, “For example, female students who participate in sports and are physically active might not fit the gender norm and may be bullied.”
These results suggest that K-12 schools should look at ways to increase physical activity participation and safety and to support peer and adult support.
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