Bullied kids exercise less
For some kids, especially those who are overweight, keeping up with the demands of gym class can be tough. And now, new research says kids who are teased about their inability to keep pace end up exercising less in the long run. That goes for both overweight and normal weight students.
Researchers at Brigham Young University studied connections between bullying, physical activity and quality of life among middle school students in the Midwest. They said it’s not the first time bullying has been linked to reduced physical activity for overweight and obese students but were surprised to discover the negative effects on kids without weight problems.
“Our finding that this applies to normal-weight kids also was novel,” said study author and psychology professor, Chad Jensen, in a news release. The findings were published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.
Specifically, the study found that children who were bullied during P.E. class were less likely to participate in physical activity one year later.
Fourth and 5th grade students completed three surveys at the start of the school year and then were given the same questionnaires one year later.
The surveys included questions about physical activity, emotional health, getting along with fellow classmates and more. The survey also keyed-in on whether the child had been bullied during gym class and what effect that had on their emotions.
Some examples of bullying included being made fun of while playing sports, not being picked for a team and called insulting names.
The study results showed a decrease in physical activity of healthy-weight students who are bullied, and a decrease in health-related quality of life for students who were overweight or obese who reported teasing, researchers said.
“Overweight kids who were teased reported poorer functional ability across domains (physical, social, academic and physical),” said Jensen. “If we can help them to have a better perception of their physical and social skills, then physical activity may increase and health-related quality is likely to improve.”
Study leaders say they would like the results to drive attention to the issue.
“We hope our study will raise awareness that educators should consider bullying prevention during physical education and free play (recess) when kids may be discouraged from being physically active because of teasing experiences,” Jensen said.
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