Staying active young can boost mental health for life - Study

Teenage exercise linked to better mental health as adults

14 Apr 2024 08:01am
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Illustrated by Sinar Daily
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Illustrated by Sinar Daily

KUALA LUMPUR - ASICS Global State of Mind Study uncovers a direct link between teenage physical activity and adult mental wellbeing, reaffirming the connection between movement and the mind.

In a statement, its Managing Executive Officer, Tomoko Koda said: "The results of our second global State of Mind Study show how important it is that young people stay active and the impact this can have on their minds for years to come.”

The study of over 26,000 respondents across 22 countries found that the more people exercise, the higher their State of Mind scores, which is formulated based on the accumulative mean scores across 10 cognitive and emotional traits namely, positive, content, relaxed, focused, composed, resilient, confident, alert, calm, and energised.

Across the globe, respondents who are regularly active with 150 minutes or more of physical activity per week, have an average State of Mind score of 67 out of 100, while inactive people with less than 30 minutes of exercise per week have a much lower State of Mind score of just 54 out of 100.

Participants who engaged in exercise throughout their adolescence report higher activity levels and State of Mind scores as adults, indicating that remaining active as a teenager is key to establishing good exercise habits that last into adulthood and positively impact adult mental wellbeing.

In fact, the study was able to pinpoint each additional year a teenager remains engaged in exercise is associated with improved State of Mind scores in adulthood, with the ages between 15 to 17 identified as the most critical years for staying active and when dropping out of exercise significantly affects the mental state for years to come.

Those who regularly exercise are found to be more likely to remain active later in life and report higher State of Mind scores as adults (64 out of 100 vs 61 out of 100) than those who were not active during these years.

In comparison, respondents who dropped out of exercise before the age of 15 displayed the lowest activity levels and lowest State of Mind scores in adulthood, scoring 15 per cent lower than the global average, while a decline in physical activity at ages 16 to 17 and before the age of 22 reduced their average scores by 13 per cent and six per cent respectively.

Worryingly, the study also uncovered an exercise generation gap, with younger generations being increasingly less active with 57 per cent of the Silent Generation (age over 78) said they were active daily in their childhoods compared to just 19 per cent of Gen Z (ages 18 to 27).

This shows a concerning trend of younger generations disengaging from exercise earlier and in larger numbers, potentially impacting their mental wellbeing now and for years to come. Globally, Gen Z has the lowest State of Mind scores with an average of 62 out 100 compared to the Baby Boomers’ 68 out 100 and the Silent Generation’s 70 out 100. - BERNAMA