A lot of research has been conducted on the subject of exercise and how it affects mood in adults, and it has been shown that exercise helps reduce stress and leads to better sleep and weight management. But what about kids? How does exercise affect their mood? In this article, we will look at the research to see how exercise can improve mood in children and help them develop healthy habits that will lead to independence.
Exercise and Mood: Managing Temper Tantrums
If your child is having difficulty controlling their emotions, it may be expressed through temper tantrums. You know the feeling of being overwhelmed by emotions and feeling like you have no control over them; sadness, aggression, and frustration all weighing heavily on you. Most adults have had enough practice dealing with their emotions that they can keep from screaming in the middle of the grocery store after a long day. Children, however, are still developing their skills in emotional regulation, and because of that their mood can suffer.
The mood of the people around us, or co-regulation, is another aspect of mood that affects our behavior and actions.
Exercise can help children regulate their moods9. The next time your child is acting out, think about whether they have gotten enough physical activity recently. I have found that 30 minutes of exercise in the morning can help even out moods for the whole day. Plus, if they have gotten enough physical activity, they are likely to take a good nap, which is a double win for everyone’s mood!
Tips for Exercise and Mood
Try these tips for encouraging exercise to reduce tantrums in toddlers:
- Instead of pushing your toddler in a scroller on neighborhood walks, encourage them to walk next to you for a while.
- Use classic movement songs to incorporate movement into their day – our favorites are “Animal Action” By Greg and Steve, “Jim Along Josie” By Pete Seeger, and “Pet Parade” by Hoyt Axton.
- If screen time is a part of your routine, use videos like Cosmic Kids Yoga to make the screen time more valuable.
Exercise to Reduce Anxiety and Depression
Regular exercise can help to treat anxiety and depression, both in the short term and the long term. Some studies suggest that high-intensity exercises, which will increase cardiorespiratory activity, may improve mood more than low-impact exercises such as yoga.
Exercise can not only improve mood in both adults and children, but also have other positive impacts on children such as increased social activity and attention from adults.
From any perspective, exercising is likely to improve mood and protect against anxiety and depression.
Exercise for Self-Confidence
One way that exercise improves mood by raising self-esteem. Physical activity gives you a confidence boost and research shows that all kinds of physical activity contribute to a rise in self-esteem.
Self-esteem is very important for children in all areas, especially school. Their academic and social success partly depends on how much they feel they are worth, which affects their mood.
Exercise and Positive Behaviors
According to one study, both high and low-intensity exercise programs resulted in an increase of wanted behaviors from teachers. The idea is that when a child gets the right amount of physical activity, they can better manage their emotions, attention, and behaviors.
The positive effects that exercise has on executive functioning can lead to increased desirable behaviors, improved relationships with peers, teachers, and family members.
Exercise has many benefits for children, including increasing self-esteem, cognition, and academic success, and decreasing depression and anxiety. Exercise is also good for heart and respiratory function.
Exercises for Kids
You need to find an exercise routine that you love in order to stick with it. Try new activities with your kids and see what they enjoy.
A strategy that can help get kids to exercise is if their parents model healthy habits. If parents show their children that they make healthy choices, are fit, and regularly exercise, then the kids are more likely to do the same.
Adults canmodel healthy choices for kids by exercising at home. Seeing adults exercise has a positive impact on kids’ attitudes towards physical activity.
A treadmill at home makes it more likely you’ll move around and exercise, which are healthy habits. Horizon Fitness treadmills and fitness equipment make it possible to have this kind of equipment at home so you can exercise regularly.
Horizon offers quick and effective workouts that fit into the busy family’s schedule, as well as several entertainment apps and streaming options to promote improved physical exercise and meaningful motivation.
Exercise Benefits Children Physically and Mentally
Two new studies show that exercise can help children overcome depression and behavioural disorders.
A physically active child is a healthy child.
Physical activity is good for children’s health because it strengthens their muscles and bones, prevents them from becoming overweight, and reduces the risk of diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Physical activity is not only good for a child’s physical health, but it is also beneficial to their mental health.
Studies show that children who are physically active tend to have a better outlook on life. They are more confident, can manage anxiety and depression better, and have higher self-esteem and cognitive skills.
According to Len Saunders, a physical health educator and author, exercising also releases endorphins, which contributes to a happy child.
The benefits of physical activity for children are being discussed more this week after two studies were published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Both of them analyzed the positive effects of exercise on children’s mental well-being.
What Exercise Does
The study found that children who were physically active at ages 6 and 8 were less likely to experience symptoms of depression two years later.
A different study found that children with behavioral disorders have improved functioning in school when they use cyber cycling.
Cybercycling is a workout where you ride a bike that doesn’t go anywhere, while looking at a computer-generated environment.
So why cyber cycling and not just cycling?
The children who have behavioral health disorders tend to not participate in activities that require them to be active, so cyber cycling was a good way to get them involved because it was something they found interesting.
April Bowling, assistant professor at Merrimack College, explained to Healthline that from a physiological perspective, any aerobic exercise – regular cycling, running, etc. – would likely have similar positive effects. However, she noted that it can be very challenging to get children to engage in these activities if they don’t find them enjoyable.
It can be difficult to make traditional sports and exercise programs attractive to children who have sensory disorders, social anxiety, and delays in developing motor skills.
According to Bowling, cyber cycling was appealing to the participants because it was something they could do successfully at their current ability level. They also found the video games and virtual reality courses entertaining.
There is little research on educational settings serving children with complex BHD, but research shows that exercise improves mood and behavior in children and lowers chronic disease risks.
This study used a crossover design to see if an aerobic cyber cycling physical education curriculum could improve behavioral regulation and classroom functioning in children and adolescents with complex BHD.
The students who were diagnosed with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, or mood disorders were randomly assigned to use the bikes twice a week during the 30- to 40-minute physical education classes.
The researchers found that the program was successful as the children gradually increased their riding time and intensity over the course of seven weeks.
Children who participated in the cyber cycling class displayed up to 51 percent less disruptive behaviors than those who did not participate in the class.
Saunders was interested in the cyber cycling study as it showed that visual stimulation can act as a great motivation to exercise. Saunders told Healthline that the children in the study who were visually stimulated in a unique way were more likely to stay motivated to exercise and enjoy it. There appears to be a direct correlation between this type of exercise and improvement in behavioral health.
Changing the Brain
The benefits of aerobic exercise for children’s mood and behavior have been well researched and documented.
According to Bowling, it seems that aerobic exercise not only changes where the brain directs its resources, but also improves brain chemistry and self-regulation. When children’s mood and self-regulation is improved, they can function better in the classroom.
She believes that cyber cycling has a lot of potential to be used in more settings and is currently testing them in public special education classrooms. However, there is a problem with getting these expensive bikes into schools that can’t afford them.
The cost of exercise equipment may be a barrier to entry for many schools, so it is important to research other, less expensive options that are just as effective.
Bowling explained that the study provides evidence that children with behavioral health concerns can improve not only their physical health, but their mental health, through exercise.
Bowling believes that schools should stop taking away time for recess and physical education so that children can perform better academically.
Battling Depression, Anxiety
The study found that children who reported more physical activity and less sedentary behavior also reported fewer symptoms of depression.
Physical activity can help reduce future depressive symptoms in middle childhood, according to Tonje Zahl.
Physical activity can help to reduce the symptoms of childhood depression.
This study suggests that by increasing the amount of moderate and vigorous physical activity that children do, we may be able to prevent them from experiencing depressive symptoms later in life. This is important because it shows that physical activity can be used alongside other treatments like medication or therapy to help people. Also, because almost all children can be targeted in efforts to get them to be more active, this could have a large positive impact on the population as a whole.
Many physical educators believe that being physically active can help to prevent feeling depressed.
Saunders states that exercise has a positive effect on creating mentally healthy children by releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression.
According to Dr. Christina Hibbert, physical activity can help improve mental health. She herself has overcome depression and anxiety through exercise.
Hibbert told Healthline that she has used cardiovascular exercise to help her overcome struggles with depression and that strength training/flexibility exercises have helped her overcome anxiety. She explained that being in the sun, getting out of the house, and moving her body has had a profound effect on her mood and that she has started to see that it is key in helping her feel emotionally and mentally stronger and healthier.