The Power of Exercise: 3 Ways Exercise Enhances Mental Health in Children

A girl dressed as a superhero. holding arms up to signify she is strong and happy

It is no secret that exercise can have a positive impact on mental health, but what is the chemical reaction in the brain that occurs when children exercise and how can it reduce stress, anxiety and depression? Recent scientific research has shed light on this important question and has revealed that physical activity can have a significant impact on the mental health of children in three ways:

  1. Exercise releases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that act as natural pain-relievers and can produce a feeling of happiness. Endorphins also reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve mood, focus, and sleep.
  2. Exercise can increase the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and can reduce symptoms of depression.
  3. Exercise also helps to reduce cortisol, a hormone released during times of stress, which can have a negative effect on mental health.

The amount of exercise that a child needs to do to benefit their mental health will depend on the individual child and their particular needs. However, the general guidelines are 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Moderate to vigorous exercise, such as running, tag games, playing sports, or swimming, is the most beneficial for helping with mental health issues.

It is clear that exercise can be a powerful tool for improving and maintaining good mental health in children. By understanding the chemical reactions that occur in the brain when children exercise, as well as the best types of exercise for mental health, parents can help their children reap the many benefits of physical activity.


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