Kids' lives improve with physical activity

Active kids have a higher quality of life compared to kids who spend hours in front a computer or TV, a recent study found.

Researchers from Australia surveyed 2,353 students ages 12-17 years old. Using a pediatric-centered quality of life index, they examined the students' physical, pyschosocial, and emotional well-being in addition to their school performance. A follow-up survey was conducted five years later.

The most active kids had the highest physical and social scores while children with the most "screen time" had the lowest scores on physical, psychosocial, and emotional well-being. Inactive kids also tended to perform more poorly in school.

Researchers pointed out that sedentary lifestyles have a well-established association with childhood obesity and certain psychosocial problems, such as violent behavior. But the relationship between the perceived health status and activity level among adolescents has received little attention in medical literature.

The authors conclude that these results "reiterate the need for public-health policy and interventions that promote less time in recreational screen-viewing and more time in physical activity, which could have a beneficial influence not only on weight and fitness but also on general well-being during adolescence and beyond."

Gopinath B, et al. Physical activity and sedentary behaviors and health-related quality of life in adolescents. Pediatrics 2012; DOI:10.152/peds.2011-3637.