There’s a lot of research out there, including one recently published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which concluded that a combination of physical education, yoga, and cognitive behavioral therapy can improve physical activity levels in students.
But there’s also a growing body of evidence that shows that cognitive behavioral therapies may also help people stay healthy and active in the long term.
In a recent article, University of Toronto researcher Shobha Gupta, who studies physical education for the health and well-being of students, and colleagues analyzed data from the Canadian Paediatric Society’s (CPS) National Health and Medical Care Survey (NHMS).
The NHMS is a yearly survey of children and young adults across Canada.
Researchers analyzed data on more than 20,000 children ages 3 to 18 from across Canada, covering their ages from birth to the age of 16.
The NHMSS is the only nationally representative, population-based survey of physical activity in children.
It includes a wide range of questions, including questions about whether a child is physically active, whether the child is engaged in a sport, and whether the children have had any health or medical conditions.
“We were looking at the kids that were participating in the study, and we looked at how they were performing in their physical activities, and what their physical activity level was at the time of their age,” Gupta told CBC News.
“What we found was that they performed at least as well as the kids who were not physically active in terms of their performance in physical activities.”
The study found that kids who engaged in physical activity had significantly higher levels of physical fitness, health, and wellbeing.
For example, they had higher self-esteem, less depression, lower stress levels, lower levels of anxiety, and a greater overall level of well-Being.
“These kids had more physical activity, they performed better in school, they were healthier, they did better in their self-perception, and they had better health outcomes,” Gupta said.
“So it is a very promising result, but it’s not yet clear how the physical activity actually benefits the children.”
She added that it is important to note that the study focused on children who were physically active at the start of the study.
In other words, kids who weren’t physically active during the study were not included in the results.
“But as we move forward, we will be looking at this more broadly,” Gupta continued.
“There is a huge need for this kind of research because kids who are physically active do not just get older.
They also tend to have better health and they have better outcomes in terms on cognitive outcomes and physical outcomes,” she said.
While physical activity and physical education may seem like a simple solution, they can actually be more complex.
Gupta pointed out that it’s difficult to predict which kind of physical activities a child will engage in and which type of physical exercise a child might choose.
For instance, if a child engages in a lot more activity in a short time period, it may be that they are likely to choose activities that require a lot less physical energy, such as yoga or swimming.
But if a kid is doing activities that involve a lot fewer physical actions, such in sports, they may choose activities like gymnastics or swimming that require more intense physical activity.
“It’s very important to understand that the kind of exercise a kid may choose to do, their physical environment, their social environment, and their emotional environment all play a role in how they perform and on what,” Gupta explained.
“So if you can provide a safe environment, a safe physical environment that’s good for kids, and make sure that there’s an opportunity for them to engage in those types of activities, then you will be able to do much better in terms to health and wellbeing.”
While the results of the current study suggest that physical education is a proven strategy for reducing health-care costs, it is not yet known whether cognitive behavioral treatment may also reduce health-related costs.
Gupta said it is possible that physical activity may help prevent some health problems and may even reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, but further research is needed.
“I think it is going to take more research to really see if there are other ways in which cognitive behavioral treatments can improve health outcomes in people,” Gupta concluded.
With files from CTV’s Calgary Eyeopener