A new study published in the November issue of the journal Pediatric Exercise Science has found that overweight children who begin an exercise routine score lower on anger assessment tests than their non−exercising peers. The findings are in line with earlier studies that have shown exercise to reduce anxiety and depression in kids.
An interesting relationship was also determined: the more the children's fitness level increased, the more his or her anger score was reduced after exercising.
Catherine Davis and her team at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta worked with 208 overweight kids who were sedentary at the beginning of the study. The children were randomly assigned to groups — one exercised for 20 minutes per day, one for 40 minutes per day, and the third was a control group, who remained sedentary throughout the study. Exercise routines continued for 10 to 15 weeks.
Before and after completing the exercise routines, the kids were scored on the Pediatric Anger Expression Scale, which tests for demonstrations of feelings of anger, such as slamming doors and hitting others. Children in the exercise groups all scored lower on the test after completing the exercise regimens. The scores of those in the control group did not change.
While the study showed a good correlation between exercising and anger reduction in these children, the researchers note that it is also possible that other factors could have an effect on the children's anger levels, such as watching fewer violent shows on television for the duration of the experiment or getting positive attention from the adults involved with the study. Davis notes that only children in the exercise groups came to the Medical College's Georgia Prevention Institute during the program; in the future, even the control group will do so. "We're trying to make it so the only difference is exercise," says Davis.