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Exercise Vs Bullies and Depression
It builds self-confidence. It keeps away depression. It burns calories. It builds muscles. It promotes better sleep.
And it deters bullies in school.
If the photo of the kid on the right looks familiar that is because it is a young Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was 14 years old.
He didn't start weight lifting and weight training until he was 15 years old. Before then his favourite sport was soccer.
And it certainly did not stunt his growth either. Weight lifting took a skinny teenager who had confidence issues and turned him into a weight training champion and later a Hollywood success story.
Parents these days worry about their kids a lot. They worry because their kids are being bullied in school, because their kids are moody and depressed, and they think they can solve these problems by taking the poor kid to a psychiatrist.
A psychiatrist who will often prescribe anti-depressants designed for adults for children.
I would argue however that teenagers are already going through enough hormonal problems that throwing anti-depressant medications into the mix causes a lot more harm than good. If anything anti-depressants are probably stunting their growth, contributing to childhood and teenage obesity rates - and worse - creating a culture of drug addiction within the child's mind.
In contrast exercise (not just weight lifting, any kind of exercise) is a natural remedy for depression. Exercise boosts a person's sense of well-being, their metabolism speeds up, they burn more fat, build more muscle, sleep better, and feel more positive about themselves.
That increased self confidence also means they can stand up to bullies / ignore bullies more easily, without feeling like a loser because they know they are better than the bully. (Bullies are inherently filled with their own feelings of inadequacy and usually take to bullying because they have troubles at home, have weight issues, feel they are less intelligent compared to other students, any number of causes.)
In other words thanks to boosted self-confidence and an increased lack of bullying the child becomes ever more confident in their own abilities - and yet often has a degree of humility because they remember where they once were in life.
Now admittedly your kids probably won't get into caber tossing. But this is just an example of many of the sports that kids can get into that are more physical and require a bit more brute strength and effort compared to other exercises that are comparatively not that difficult. Parents need to encourage their kids to try these more difficult sports so the kids have a chance to try something they might like, and the boosted confidence from doing it (even if they didn't like it) will stay with them for years.
Some parents even hire personal trainers for their kids in an effort to encourage their kid to enter a life of healthy exercise which will keep their child on a healthy track all their way through life. It probably won't lead to the Olympics or professional sports, but the child which grows into an adult will have many years of happiness and health ahead of them thanks to the parent who planned ahead and put some thought into their child's exercise regimen.
Speaking for myself my parents put me through numerous years of ice skating, swimming, boy scouts, and as I got older and started making my own decisions I got into cycling, archery, boxing, tae kwon do, freehand mountain climbing, and many other physical activities long before I became a personal trainer.
I am very thankful my parents took an active interest in my physical and mental well-being.
In our day and age, with the USA and Canada's cutbacks on physical education, the lowered interest of children with sports (and increased use of computers / electronic gadgets), it has become ever more important for parents to encourage children to engage in sports and physical activities.
Find something that your kids enjoy and encourage them to keep doing it. It doesn't matter whether it is ballet or parkour (although I recommend wearing a helmet for parkour) and find ways to add such activities to your child's weekly schedule so they are guaranteed to keep doing them for years to come.
And if it is an activity that both parents and child can take part in, so much the better!
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