Study of Youths Shows Health and Happiness Go Hand in Hand

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To Be Healthy...Be FitSMM survey of more than 7,600 U.S. schoolchildren ages nine to 16 revealed some sobering trends.

It showed that children eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables less than half of the time and that a fourth of them do not floss their teeth at all. A third of the students surveyed sleep less than 8 hours a day. The survey also showed that, in addition to the known problems that can arise from following such habits, sedentary activities such as playing video games and watching television consume 30 percent of youths’ free time. Indeed, it indicated that, whereas the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends 1 hour of exercise every day for children and teens, the majority of students exercise only 3 days per week.

Such unhealthy lifestyles for children carry not only the usual risk of developing obesity, diabetes, heart disease or cancer later but also social and emotional consequences. “There appears to be a clear link between a student’s self-image and a healthy lifestyle. Students who eat well tend to be concerned about safety, have a positive self-image, exercise more frequently and express their anger with words rather than resorting to actions,” said Jodi Prohofsky, vice president at CIGNA Behavioral Health, which conducted the survey. “Similarly, unhealthy attitudes are also connected. Students who have problems releasing their anger are often those who watch the most television and play the most video games, highlighting how nonphysical activities are less effective at alleviating stress.”

According to the survey, students with anger management problems were less likely than other students to exercise regularly, get enough sleep and eat wisely. If you can’t convince your young clients to exercise and eat right for the sake of their health, try convincing them to do those things for the sake of their happiness.

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Sean White

IDEA Author/Presenter
February 2003

© 2003 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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