Lack of exercise blamed for soaring rates of mental illness among young people

Lack of sufficient exercise has been found to be responsible for soaring rates of mental illness among young people. Therefore, teenagers have been advised to walk or run a mile every day to keep themselves mentally fit.

Researchers believe that the Daily Mile scheme, which was pioneered in Scotland six years ago and adopted by more than 3,000 schools, could help children deal with depression.

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. 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 Daily Mile scheme was implemented by Elaine Wyllie, then the head teacher of St Ninian’s Primary, in a bid to improve general fitness of students after realising that her students lacked stamina during a simple warm-up before a PE class.

The research found that prevalence of depression increased between 15 and 19 years as those in the said age group often dealt with increased academic and social pressures. They could get some relief if they exercised regularly. In addition to preventing depression and reducing stress, regular exercise can also combat heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

In addition to implementing the Daily Mile, researchers also suggested a US initiative called Take 10! This is a combination of physical activity with lessons and walking meetings.

This classroom-based physical activity programme was developed by the ILSI Research Foundation with assistance from health professionals and education experts. Take 10! has been proven to increase physical activity, improve healthy habits, increase nutrition knowledge and improve BMI.