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Physical Activity and Mental Health among Chinese Adolescents

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Objectives: We assessed the relationship between physical activity (PA) and mental health among Chinese adolescents. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey in 4 Chinese cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Nanchang, and Urumchi. We randomly selected 25 schools from these cities in both urban and suburban areas. A total of 9269 adolescents completed the survey. We conducted multilevel logistic regressions to examine the relationship between PA engagement and mental health, adjusting for various sample characteristics. Results: Compared to those with low levels of daily PA, adolescents with moderate and high levels of daily PA had lower odds of having learning anxiety (23% for moderate and 37% for high), solitude tendency (52% for moderate and 41% for high), self-accusation (13% for moderate and 15% for high), experiencing sensitivity (15% for moderate and 13% for high), physical symptoms (20% for moderate and 21% for high), and a general mental health problem (total score of all the domains: 41% and 34%). Conclusions: An increase in PA participation holds the potential to improve multiple mental health domains among Chinese adolescents. Future longitudinal or experimental research is warranted to confirm findings from this study.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Jianxiu Liu, Department of Physical Education, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China 2: Mengmeng Ji, Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL, United States 3: Caitlin Vitosky Clarke, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL, United States 4: Ruidong Liu, Department of Physical Education, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China 5: Xindong Ma, Professor, Department of Physical Education, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China;, Email: [email protected] 6: Ruopeng An, Assistant Professor, Brown School, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, United States

Publication date: March 1, 2021

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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