Physical activity and mental health in schoolchildren: a complicated relationship

Acta Paediatr. 2005 Dec;94(12):1699-701. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2005.tb01838.x.


According to a study by Parfitt and Eston, physical activity was positively associated with child mental health and self-esteem. In this commentary, gender differences, causal links and implications for prevention are discussed.

Conclusion: The relationship between physical activity and mental health is not as simple as to say that activity will invariably lead to improved mental health. For youngsters to be engaged in physical exercise, it is important that the needs of the particular child be taken into account. Forced and frightening activities should be avoided. The context should be one of enjoyment rather than of harsh discipline and skill-dependent games where many children are apt to fail.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Child
  • Depression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Motor Activity*
  • Physical Fitness / psychology*
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Factors
  • Television