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Gym class may be the key to lowering depression in middle school

Adding focused cardiovascular fitness into sixth graders' gym class and recess can help stave off depression during adolescence.
Nicole Shepard, Deseret News Modified: August 18, 2014 at 6:53 pm •  Published: August 19, 2014

Researchers at the American Psychological Association found that preventing depression in the sixth grade, via gym class and recess, can stave off depression throughout the rest of adolescence.

Depression is the third leading cause of death and the number one leading cause of disability in teens. The study found that there is a significant association between the onset of depression in the sixth grade and depression in later teen years.

“Depression that begins at this time can lead to chronic or recurring depression in later years,” Camilo Ruggero, APA researcher, told Education News. “Fitness programs are one way to help prevent depression in middle schoolers, but schools should also use other interventions, such as one-on-one or group therapy, that more directly address symptom treatment among depressed adolescents.”

Researchers also found that structured cardiovascular exercise beginning in sixth grade decreases depression levels for teen, especially in girls.

Rusty Gregory, a wellness coach involved in the study, told Daily RX., “We’ve known for a while now that exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, generates the production of endorphins. These are chemicals that bind to receptors in the brain to help produce positive, pain-reducing feelings."

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