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Establishing Healthy Routines In Youth Creates Better Outcomes

2 months, 2 weeks ago

3032  0
Posted on Apr 05, 2024, 1 p.m.

Establishing healthy long-term recreational habits in our youth has been shown to have a beneficial impact on both physical and mental health later in life, but some groups appear to be missing out on the benefits disproportionately, such as academic high achievers, those with low self-confidence, and females, according to recent research from the University of Adelaide published in PLOS ONE. 

"It is well known that sustained regular exercise in young people improves fitness, physical health, self-esteem, reduces distress and sets up long-term patterns that reduce disease risk in adulthood," said Associate Professor Oliver Schubert from the University of Adelaide's Adelaide Medical School and the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network."There seems to be a critical period in people's teens, around the age of 15, to establish these behaviours."

The analysis of data collected as part of the Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth (LSAY) showed that young Australians on average exercise less regularly every year after transitioning from high school to university and work, and suggests that females, those with low self-efficacy, higher academic achievers, reluctant exercisers, and those experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage are at the most risk of failing to establish regular exercise patterns during their transition from adolescence to young adulthood. 

"The disadvantage experienced by females is influenced by reduced opportunity, lower access, and lack of sports diversity, but also divergent parental and cultural expectations, stereotypes, and role models," says Dr Julie Morgan, Clinical Associate Lecturer at the University of Adelaide's Discipline of Psychiatry and lead author of the study. "Psychological factors, such as perceived sports competency and self-efficacy, may play an additional role. Our study highlights that more needs to be done to promote long-term regular of exercise to female adolescents."

"The risk for academic high achievers was unexpected and highlights the need to promote a balance between study and self-care to this group," said Associate Professor Scott Clark, Head of the University of Adelaide's Discipline of Psychiatry.

"The large size and high follow-up rate of LSAY, which follows Australian youth as they transition from school to study or work, makes it an extremely valuable resource for analysing the impact of changes in society and policy that can influence educational, occupational and physical- and mental-health outcomes," says Jana Bednarz, a senior statistician from the University of Adelaide who conducted the longitudinal modelling analyses. "Our trajectory-based analysis of repeated measurements provides more robust data than previous cross-sectional studies, where data are collected only once, and therefore provides good evidence for youth exercise policy development in Australia."

"Given the predictors of these patterns are identifiable at age 15, there is a key role for secondary school, especially in the last years, when academic achievements become more central for young people," said Associate Professor Schubert. "Equally, universities and vocational training institutions could run programs to support and encourage physical activity and sport.”

"State governments and local councils need to ask whether the current leisure infrastructure supports the needs of young people. Funding and support for grass-roots community sport across gender and socioeconomic groups is critical."

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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