Study says physical activity helps mental health in children: 4 exercises kids can do every day
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 11, 2023
Physical activity and mental health are often intertwined. When discussing the benefits of exercise, mental health consistently ranks high. Recently, a new study conducted by researchers from the Universities of Strathclyde, Edinburgh, Bristol, and Georgia in the US has revealed that regular physical activity can significantly improve the mental health of adolescents. Specifically, engaging in moderate to intense physical activity between the ages of 11 and 13 has been linked to better mental well-being. With this in mind, let’s explore some exercises that adolescents can incorporate into their daily routines.
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To gain more insight, HealthShots interviewed Mumbai-based fitness expert Anavi Someshwar, who recommends that children aged between 6 and 17 engage in approximately one hour of moderate to intense exercise daily. Not only does this help improve mental health, but it also promotes stronger bones and muscles, as well as a healthy body fat composition.
Someshwar suggests that a well-rounded exercise program should include a combination of resistance and strength training exercises, stamina-building cardio exercises, and the development of skills such as coordination, balance, and stability. It is equally important to focus on recovery, mobility, and flexibility to prevent injuries and enhance performance during exercise. For adolescents who participate in sports, it is beneficial to focus on the specific skills required for their chosen sport, such as agility, speed, and coordination for football, or coordination for basketball.
According to the expert, regular participation in sports is the best form of exercise for children. Not only is it enjoyable, but it also builds confidence, enhances strength and stamina, provides ample outdoor time, and fosters a sense of healthy competition.
Exercises for Adolescents to Incorporate into their Routine
Squats are an essential functional movement that strengthens the legs, glutes, and core. With proper guidance, individuals can progress to jump squats or single-leg squats.
How to do squats?
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping your back and chest upright.
- Hinge forward, driving your hips back, and bend your knees until your hips align with your knees and your thighs become parallel to the floor.
- Maintain equal pressure on your feet as you rise up, squeezing your glutes.
Jump rope variations offer an excellent exercise option for children. Not only does it elevate the heart rate, improving stamina, but it also engages the entire body. Skipping helps build lower body strength, core stability, and coordination. With numerous variations available, skipping is both enjoyable and non-monotonous.
How to skip?
- Stand with your feet a few inches apart and jump lightly off the balls of your feet while maintaining the rhythm of the rope and jumps.
- Experiment with single-leg skips, alternate skips, double unders, and criss-cross skips.
3. Wall Push-ups or Knee Supported Push-ups
Push-ups can be intimidating due to their difficulty level and the strain they place on the shoulders. However, individuals can begin mastering the movement by performing wall push-ups or knee-supported push-ups. This approach allows for the gradual development of upper body strength, eventually leading to full range push-ups.
How to do wall push-ups or knee-supported push-ups?
- Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on a wall or on the floor.
- Slowly lower your body as a single unit, from head to ankle or knee.
- Exhale and push back up, maintaining a triangular position with your hands and nose, dropping your chest between your palms without letting your nose touch the ground.
- Ensure your elbows push back and not out during the movement.
4. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers engage the entire body, targeting the legs, arms, and core.
How to do mountain climbers?
- Start in a plank position with your palms on the floor.
- Gradually bring one knee toward your chest and alternate legs.
- Focus on pushing away from the ground, maintaining distance between your ears and shoulders without shrugging.
- Engage your lower belly as you bring your leg in and squeeze your glutes as you extend your leg out.
Someshwar advises that most exercise routines are safe for teenagers, including weight-bearing exercises. Nevertheless, it is essential not to progress to using external weights or resistance without mastering the proper form and technique in bodyweight movements. Additionally, it is crucial to seek guidance from a professional fitness coach before performing exercises with weights.