Bullied Teens 23% Less Likely To Attempt Suicide With Regular Exercise

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By Kirsten Cowart

All across the nation, schools are cutting back recess, physical education and athletic programs to make way for more science and math-heavy curriculum. As a result, we are starting to see what reducing exercise does to the health and mental health of our children.

young-boy-sitting-aloneUnfortunately in our world, there is still an issue with people bullying other people. There are many reasons why it happens, but for now, we are just going to acknowledge that it does happen and that those who suffer from it can struggle with loneliness and depression. Sometimes these teens and children will even come to the point where they have suicidal thoughts and make attempts, because of the bullying.  

According to a new analysis from the University of Vermont, exercising regularly can greatly reduce suicidal thoughts and attempts in teens that are bullied.  

CDC’s National Youth Risk Behavior Survey

According the the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 13,583 students in high school, being physically active for 4 or more days each week will reduce suicidal ideation and attempts by 23%.

According to the survey, 20% of all students nationwide reported having been bullied while on school property.

According to other previous studies, exercise has some awesome effects on your mental health. This unique study is the first that noticed a link between suicidal thoughts/attempts and bullying specifically.

Bullying Is An Epidemic In This Country

Bullied students are much more likely to struggle with substance abuse, low self-esteem, depression, sadness, anxiety and poor academic performance.

30% of all students surveyed reported that they felt sad for 2 or more weeks last year and more than 22% reported that they had suicidal thoughts. What is even more heartbreaking is that 8.2% of these teens reported that they had made an actual suicide attempt during this same time period.

The students who reported that they were bullied were twice as likely to report feelings of sadness and 3 times more likely to report suicidal thoughts or attempts when they were compared to other students who were not bullied.

Exercise Made A Big Difference

While we are working on eliminating bullying and helping children get the support they need to thrive, it is important to give them as many tools as we can to help them get through the difficult teenage years. Encouraging exercise is one of the best tools we have found so far.

“I was surprised that it was that significant and that positive effects of exercise extended to kids actually trying to harm themselves,” said Jeremy Sibold, lead author and associate professor and chair of the Department Rehabilitation and Movement Science. “Even if one kid is protected because we got them involved in an after-school activity or in a physical education program it’s worth it.”

Schools Are Cutting Programs Across The Nation

44% of the nation’s schools have cut significant time from physical education, recess and the arts. Instead, children are spending more of their time focusing on reading and math. Ever since the passing of the No Child Left Behind act in 2001, there has been a strong decline in school sponsored physical activity.

According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the percentage of schools actually offering daily physical education – or at least 3 days out of the week – dramatically declined between 2001 and 2006.

We really need to make a change to our school system or start encouraging some sort of community exercise programs, especially when it is estimated that only about half of all U.S. youth meet the recommended amount of exercise each day. According to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, youth need at least 60 minutes of vigorous or moderate-intensity activity each day.  

What have you found that encourages exercise in you and your family? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.


Reference: University of Vermont. “Exercise reduces suicide attempts by 23 percent among bullied teens.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150921095433.htm>.lleader_34 (1)

Kirsten Campbell
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Kirsten Campbell

Kirsten Cowart is a writer and researcher that has worked in the spiritual, mental health and medical fields.Kirsten enjoys studying and experiencing the benefits of yoga, meditation, nutrition, herbalism, organic gardening and alternative health.She worked hard in 2014 losing over 40 lbs. and has since maintained a healthy lifestyle.Follow her to learn more about her journey on Twitter, Facebook & Youtube!
Kirsten Campbell
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