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Sports Med. 1990 Jun;9(6):344-51.

The psychological benefits of exercise and the treatment of delinquent adolescents.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.

Abstract

The conviction that athletic participation imparts desirable educational, social and personal values has been the basis for including recreational sports in the remedial programme for juvenile delinquents. More recently, the psychological benefits of aerobic exercise and increased fitness have been investigated. Changes following intensive exercise include reductions in anxiety, tension and depression, and increased self-esteem. These effects have been variously hypothesised as due to a sense of increased control or mastery, a meditative effect or to alterations in neurotransmitter-levels. Delinquent adolescents comprise a heterogeneous population characterised by clusters of risk factors, handicapping conditions and psychopathology, with a prevalence of depression and low self-esteem far exceeding that of the population at large. Intervention which can benefit these characteristics may be especially useful in preventive or therapeutic programmes in this group. While less intensive recreational play or physically challenging 'Outward Bound' programmes can be effective in improving social attitudes and self-esteem, intensive aerobic exercise may produce greater improvements in self-esteem and depression. Future research must identify the mechanisms by which exercise confers these benefits, whether it enhances other areas, such as social skills or academic performance, and which populations are benefitted by such programmes.

PMID:
2192424
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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