Physical Activity, Mental Health, and Well‐Being in Very Pre‐Term and Term Born Adolescents: An Individual Participant Data Meta‐Analysis of Two Accelerometry Studies

Authors: Asteria Brylka, Dieter Wolke, Sebastian Ludyga, Ayten Bilgin, Juliane Spiegler, Hayley Trower, Anna Gkiouleka, Markus Gerber, Serge Brand, Alexander Grob, Peter Weber, Kati Heinonen, Eero Kajantie, Katri Räikkönen, Sakari Lemola,
Issue: 2021
Themes: ,
Link to Publication (External Site)

This study looks at whether physical activity is associated with better mental health and well‐being among very preterm (≤32 weeks) and term born (≥37 weeks) adolescents alike or whether the associations are stronger in either of the groups.

It finds that those young people in the study who exercised more had fewer problems with their peers, higher levels of psychological well‐being, better self‐perception/body image, and were happier at school. Differences between preterm and term-born children, however, were small.

The researchers made use of data from 2 longitudinal studies of children born in Switzerland and the UK in the early part of the 2000s. The activity levels of around 3,300 of the children were measured using step tracking devices when they were aged around 12 to 14. The children themselves filled in a questionnaire about their well-being and their mothers filled in a questionnaire about their child’s behaviour.

The researchers conclude that there is a ‘universal’ protective effect of physical exercise for children but say further research taking other forms of exercise into account may provide more useful insights.