Exercise helps protect children from stress: study

March 18, 2013

Chevy Chase, MD – Physical activity may help children manage stressful situations, finds a new study from the University of Helsinki in Finland.

Researchers studied 252 8-year-olds who wore an accelerometer to measure their physical activity, according to the study abstract. Stressful situations were induced by assigning arithmetic and story-telling tasks, and saliva samples were used to measure the level of cortisol, which is a hormone linked to stress, according to a press release from the Endocrine Society, which published the study.

Children who were the most active had the least change in cortisol levels when stress occurred, leading researchers to conclude that exercise helps regulate cortisol’s response to stressful situations.

The study was published online March 7 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.