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Bullying can hurt a kids desires to enjoy exercising

Harold Mandel's picture
Kids enjoying playing

Staying in shape is vitally important to the well being of kids in body and mind. It is for this reason that our schools have recess and physical education for the students. When kids are young this is a particularly sensitive time emotionally in their development and if other kids bully them while they are developing their skills in physical education this can lower their desires to have fun staying in shape.

Researchers set out to assess associations between preadolescent’s physical activity engagement, health-related quality of life, and teasing during physical activity, reported the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. They found that children who are overweight or obese who experience teasing during physical activity are more likely to report poorer subsequent health associated quality of life. Children with a normal weight who experience teasing during physical activity were found to be at increased risk for less physical activity involvement 1 year later. Efforts to decrease teasing during physical activity may benefit children’s health-related quality of life and increase physical activity participation.

This new study therefore found that kids who were bullied during physical education class or other physical activities were not as likely to participate in physical activity one year later, reports Brigham Young University. The overweight or obese kids who were teased during physical activity had a lower perceived health-related quality of life in reference to functioning in all vital realms one year later, including:

1: Physical

2: Social

3: Academic

4: Emotional

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It was even observed that kids with a normal healthy weight who were bullied during physical activity had a tendency to exercise less. Previous studies showed an association between bullying and decreased physical activity among kids who are obese or overweight. This study showed this association goes further to include normal weight kids. Chad Jensen, a psychology professor at BYU and lead author on the study, has said, “Our finding that this applies to normal-weight kids also was novel.”

The study had an objective of investigating associations which may exist between bullying, physical activity and quality of life over time. The same participants were followed up after a full year. The kids who participated in this study were 4th and 5th grade students from six different elementary schools in the Midwest.

The study results showed there is lowered physical activity of healthy-weight students who are bullied, and a lower health-related quality of life for students who were overweight or obese who reported teasing. Jensen said, “Overweight kids who were teased reported poorer functional ability across domains, including physical, social, academic and physical.” Jensen has stated if these kids can be helped to develop a better perception of their physical and social skills, then their participation in physical activity may improve and their health-related quality of life is likely to also improve.

At this time most schools are participating in anti-bullying programs. Jensen has suggested that specific policies which discourage peer victimization based on physical abilities be implemented into these anti-bullying programs. Jensen has commented, “We hope our study will raise awareness that educators should consider bullying prevention during physical education and free play when kids may be discouraged from being physically active because of teasing experiences.”

We witness how out of control bullying among kids is all of the time. It is hard to determine all of the factors which are responsible for psychological trend of glorifying macho like inconsiderate behavior among so many kids. Clearly, poor programming on TV, in movies and online are part of the problem which is creating negative and dangerous mindsets in so many kids. The people responsible for these programs should be encouraged to behave more responsibly.

Allowing kids to make fun of other kids who are coming into themselves physically during recess and physical education classes is tragic because it can really hurt the overall health of these kids. In some instances it appears this can even lead to violence and suicides. Therefore more effective anti-bullying campaigns which include considerations of physical fitness must be implemented in our schools.

Kids who bully other kids during recess and physical education classes should be disciplined properly, just like professional sports players are. It's an important point with the health of our kids on the line. School physical education classes really do improve children's fitness, reports EmaxHealth reporter Denise Reynolds, RD.

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