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Exercise helps childhood anger

8th December 2008

Exercising regularly can reduce the expression of anger in children who are overweight but otherwise in good shape, according to a recent study.


Catherine Davis, clinical health psychologist at the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine, said that there is already evidence that exercise reduces depression and anxiety in children, and that these findings indicate that aerobic exercise is an effective strategy to help overweight children reduce anger expression and aggressive behaviour.

This has been shown using research involving 208 typically inactive children, aged seven to eleven. Some of the children participated in an extracurricular program of aerobic exercise.

The control group of children in the study kept their sedentary habits.

The Pediatric Anger Expression Scale is used to gauge various expressions of anger such as fighting and slamming doors. This is the first published study on the topic of childhood anger and exercise.

Studies already suggest that overweight children are more likely to be involved in acts of aggression.

But research has shown that there are many good reasons for encouraging children to exercise, including improved cognition and reduced insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.

Lack of exercise leads to cardiovascular disease in adults, and metabolic syndrome in adolescents.

These new findings, published in Pediatric Exercise Science, are relevant to all children, regardless of the ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status.

Davis said that teachers could be the top proponents of physical activity for kids once made aware that exercise helps aggressive children control their behaviour.

With funding from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Davis has now begun to study the effect of exercise on cognition.

Her latest inquiries intend to show which had more of an effect in the first series of tests: exercise, or participation in an extracurricular program.

Increased attention from adults and time away from usual routines could have had a psychological impact.

Davis said that positive interaction with adults can have a large impact when considering cognition or anger management.

In the previous study, only the exercising children came to MCG's Georgia Prevention Institute after school.

Both groups of children will come to the institute for the most recent study. The researchers want to compare the two groups of children more closely. Children not exercising will do creative activities and games.


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Article Information

Title: Exercise helps childhood anger
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 9377
Date Added: 8th Dec 2008


Mental Health Foundation

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