Stress Solution for Kids: Work It Out
Let’s face it: Being a kid isn’t easy. Feeling pressure to get good grades, managing parent expectations and navigating social situations can take a toll. In fact, some experts believe children today have higher levels of stress than ever before. How can we help kids better manage stress? One way is to encourage exercise.
Power of Movement
Studies show that exercising not only improves physical health but boosts mental health as well. By evaluating cortisol levels—a hormone released in response to stress—researchers found that children who exercised more had lower levels of stress. In a different study of adolescents who were being bullied, those who exercised four or more days a week reported significantly less sadness and suicidal thoughts than those who were less active.
How Much Is Enough?
Although there is a clear link between exercise and improved mental health, scientists can’t explain why. And there is no specific dose or type of activity guaranteed to help. But U.S. guidelines recommend that kids get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day. This can include fun activities like playing tag, biking, swimming or playing basketball.
If your child is inactive, encourage him or her to start slowly and work up. Even a little activity has benefits. Scientists report that just five minutes of exercise can have some anti-anxiety effects.
Bottom line? Don’t take stress sitting down. Help your kids manage life’s pressures by moving more.