(HealthDay News) — Regular exercise may lower bullied teens’ risk of suicide, researchers report. The study was published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
The researchers analyzed data from 13,583 U.S. high school students and found that being physically active four or more days a week reduced bullied teens’ suicidal thoughts and attempts by 23%.
The researchers also found that about 30% of bullied teens said they had felt sad for two or more weeks in the previous year; 22% thought about suicide; and more than 8% attempted suicide in the previous year. About 20% of the students said they had been bullied on school property. Bullied students were two times more likely to report sadness and three times more likely to think about or attempt suicide than those who weren’t bullied. Physical activity on four or more days a week also led to large reductions in sadness, the researchers said.
“I was surprised that it was that significant and that positive effects of exercise extended to kids actually trying to harm themselves,” study author Jeremy Sibold, EdD, said in a University of Vermont news release. Sibold is associate professor and chairman of the university’s department of rehabilitation and movement science.