Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Exercise Helps Bullied Teens

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Exercise Helps Bullied Teens

Article excerpt

As high schools across the country continue to reduce physical education, recess, and athletic programs, a new study shows that regular exercise significantly reduces both suicidal thoughts and attempts among students who are bullied.

Using data from the Center for Disease Control's National Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 13,583 high school students, researchers at the University of Vermont found that being physically active four or more days per week resulted in a 23% reduction in suicidal ideation and attempts in bullied students. Nationwide nearly 20% of students reported being bullied on school property.

Previous studies have shown that exercise has positive effects on various mental health measures. This is the first, however, to show a link between physical activity and a reduction in suicidal thoughts and attempts by bullied students, who are also at increased risk for poor academic performance, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, sadness, and substance abuse.

Overall, 30% of students in the study reported feeling sad for two or more weeks in the previous year while more than 22% reported suicidal ideation and 8.2% reported actual suicidal attempts during the same time period. Bullied students were twice as likely to report sadness, and three times as likely to report suicidal ideation or attempt when compared to peers who were not bullied. Exercise on four or more days per week was also associated with significant reductions in sadness. …

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