Stress Levels in Kids Plummet with Exercise
A new study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (2013;98 (4), E619-27) involved 258 children, all about eight years old, living in Helsinki. The children were given wrist accelerators to wear and track daily physical activity levels. The researchers also measured cortisol levels daily, from saliva samples taken at the same time every day. They were looking for the impact of exercise on stress levels related to daily tasks like math assignments and story-telling.
The kids who were naturally very active daily, showed little difference in the cortisol levels. But among the children who normally did not exercise, there was a dramatic reduction in cortisol levels when they were encouraged to exercise and then perform their math or storytelling assignments. The researchers concluded that allowing children, and in fact encouraging kids to exercise daily, might have beneficial impact on daily stress associated with school and possibly other life situations.