Exercise may slightly alleviate mental health disorder symptoms

May 6, 2014

Physical activity is a great way for children to improve mental health.

Organizations across the U.S. are acknowledging Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, from May 4 – 10.  Mental health disorders among children are common in the U.S. In fact, more than 20 percent of children have had a serious debilitating mental disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Half of conditions show warning signs in children before age 14, and anxiety symptoms may even emerge by age 6.

Lack of exercise is just one factor associated with poor mental health. Physical inactivity among children ages 8 to 12 years old is strongly linked to depression, according to The New York Times. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention touches on this issue. The agency indicated that exercise reduces the risk of depression. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic reported that exercise helps improve mood and makes individuals feel just a little better. When exercising, individuals release feel-good brain chemicals, which may diminish depression symptoms.

While physical activity, such as martial arts, will most likely not fully cure these problems, it may serve as a coping mechanism for children. The Mayo Clinic indicated that exercise is a positive method of managing anxiety or depression. Instead of moping around and embracing negative feelings, children who enroll in a martial arts course may enjoy temporary relief from mental health disorders.