A new study by Columbia University has found a direct correlation between regular exercise and decreased violent activity in adolescent girls. These findings could provide some new insight into how to reduce violence amongst young girls.
The study used data from a 2008 survey that included 1,312 students at four different inner-city schools in the US. Participants were asked a series of questions about their fitness activities – for example, how often they exercised and how many sit-ups they were able to do. Other questions asked about social and violent behaviours.
The researchers found that females who mentioned that they exercised regularly were less likely to display violent activity than girls who were not physically active.
The study also showed that females were less likely to join gangs if they exercised more than ten days per month, and showed a decreasing tendency to carry a weapon if they participated in team sports.
These results highlight the effectiveness of using exercise and team sports as a way of combating anti-social and violent behaviours in adolescent women. Sports not only offer teenagers a constructive way to spend their free time, but also provide a healthy outlet for stress and other negative feelings. It also teaches teamwork, patience and how to deal with disappointments – all vital lessons for adolescents.
Of course, physical activity by itself will not stop the growing problem of violence and anti-social behaviour in Australia. But when combined with awareness and education programs, and positive influence of parents, it can be a good first step in the right direction.