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Youngsters who exercise handle stressful situations better

Regular physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for children. Whether it's by running around with friends or playing with used sports equipment, youngsters should get around 60 minutes of activity each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A new study highlights another reason exercise is important for kids - it can help them manage stress.

The study, conducted by scientists at Finland's University of Helsinki, was published recently in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Researchers discovered that sedentary children tended to have higher levels of cortisol, which is a hormone associated with stress. Youngsters who were more active had lower levels under similar situations.

"Clearly, there is a link between mental and physical well-being, but the nature of the connection is not well understood," said study author Silja Martikainen. "These results suggest exercise promotes mental health by regulating the stress hormone response to stressors."

Lowering stress levels is not the only non-physical benefit youngsters enjoy from staying physically active. Last year, a team of international researchers reviewed previously conducted studies and found youngsters who get more exercise also tend to perform better in academic settings. 

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