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Teenagers should walk a mile every day to protect from depression

  • Experts say a lack of exercise could be behind soaring rates of mental illness
  • Figures show the amount of activity children get drops in secondary school
  • A team of scientists claim that a ‘daily mile’ scheme could help beat the blues

Teenagers should be made to walk or run a mile every day to protect them against depression, a study claims.

Experts believe a lack of exercise could be behind soaring rates of mental illness among young people.

And figures show the amount of physical activity children get drops dramatically in secondary school.

Researchers claim that a ‘daily mile’ scheme – pioneered in Scotland six years ago – could help beat the blues.

Experts believe a lack of exercise could be behind soaring rates of mental illness among young people. Figures show physical activity drops in secondary school

The scheme was started by St Ninian’s Primary, Stirling – and has been copied by more than 3,000 schools.

It is in addition to PE and has been credited with improving young children’s health. It can even be done in a lunch break.

The Canadian and Australian research team says the initiative could combat the stress epidemic if extended to older groups.

Study author Professor Mark Beauchamp, of British Columbia University, said: ‘In the Daily Mile children run, jog or walk one mile every day in their school clothes.

‘The Daily Mile does not require specialised equipment or unique staff training and emphasizes enjoyment, inclusion and social participation.

‘All of which happen within 15-minute transitions and during times in the day that work for teachers and schools.

WHAT IS THE ‘DAILY MILE’ SCHEME? 

Researchers claim that a ‘daily mile’ scheme – pioneered in Scotland six years ago – could help beat the blues.

The scheme was started by St Ninian’s Primary, Stirling – and has been copied by more than 3,000 schools.

It is in addition to PE and has been credited with improving young children’s health. It can even be done in a lunch break.

The daily mile was the idea of Elaine Wyllie, then the head teacher of St Ninian’s Primary, as a way to improve general fitness after hearing her pupils lacked stamina during a simple warm-up before a PE lesson.

‘Although typically implemented with younger children, active breaks – along with initiativess such as the Daily Mile – represent excellent targets for implementation with older adolescents in secondary schools.’

The prevalence of depression and anxiety increases during late adolescence, between 15 and 19 – reaching a peak during early adulthood. 

This age group have to worry about academic performance and various social pressures, Professor Beauchamp wrote in JAMA Psychiatry.  

The researchers also recommended a US initiative called Take 10! which combines ten minutes of physical activity with lessons and ‘walking meetings’. 

Professor Beauchamp added: ‘In sum, short breaks for physical activity during the school day – separate from physical education classes – represent time-efficient, low-cost, efficacious and scalable means of intervention and have promise for stress reduction and health promotion among older adolescents.’ 

It is estimated a fifth of adolescents in the UK experience a mental health problem in any given year.

Exercise has been shown to prevent depression and reduce stress – as well as combat such illnesses as heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.

An international study published 18 months that looked at 38 countries across the globe placed England, Scotland and Wales among the worst for physical activity.

Overall, England and Wales were both scored D minus – the third worst grade in the rankings – while Scotland was joint worst with a grade of F. 

Government advice says children should do at least an hour of moderate intensity physical activity per day. 

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