According to new research in JAMA, children who got regular physical exercise and were less preoccupied with screen use had better mental health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The research involved over 500 parents of young child participants and an additional 500 parent-adolescent pairs of children in early adolescence.
“This cross-sectional survey was conducted from October 22 to November 2, 2020, among 547 parents of children aged 6 to 10 years and 535 parent-child dyads with children and adolescents (hereinafter referred to as children) aged 11 to 17 years and matched down to 500 children per cohort using US Census–based sampling frames,” the authors wrote in their findings.
“Children aged 11 to 17 years self-reported physical activity, screen time, and mental health, and their parents reported other measures. Parents of children aged 6 to 10 years reported all measures.”
The study showed that better health behaviors led to improved mental health during exposure to pandemic-related stressors.
“In this cross-sectional survey study, more physical activity and less screen time were associated with better mental health for children, accounting for pandemic stressors,” the study’s authors affirmed in their findings.
“Children engaged in suboptimal amounts of physical activity and screen time, making this a potentially important target for intervention.”