Study: Exercise Can Help Kids Avoid Depression

Science has shown that moderate to vigorous exercise is good for us in all kinds of ways, including improving sleep, reducing stress, and protecting against heart disease and cancer. Studies have shown that exercise is especially important for adolescents, but if your teen isn’t an athlete, you may have a hard time prying them away from their screens to go for a jog or to the gym. But new research offers some good news - even light exercise may help keep kids from developing depression.

A newstudyfinds that getting an hour of simple movement every day at age 12 is linked to an average 10% lower chance of depression at age 18. And the simple movement can be anything from walking and biking to doing chores or playing an instrument. “It’s not just more intense forms of activity that are good for our mental health,” explains lead study authorAaron Kandola.

He says the amount of time young people spend not being active has been steadily increasing for years and all that sitting around has negative consequences for their mental health. The study finds that sedentary behavior increased as the kids got older and at age 14, each additional hour of not being active raised depressive scores by 8%. But cutting back on sedentary time by two hours between the ages of 12 and 16 was linked to a 16 to 22% lower depression score by age 18. So as tough as it may be to get those kids moving, it’s worth it for their mental health.