– Regular exercise is touted as an antidote for many ills, including
stress, depression and obesity. Physical activity also may help decrease
violent behavior among adolescent girls, according to new research to
be presented Monday, May 6, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS)
annual meeting in Washington, DC.
Researchers from Columbia University analyzed results of a 2008
survey completed by 1,312 students at four inner-city high schools in
New York to determine if there was an association between regular
exercise and violence-related behaviors.
“Violence in neighborhoods spans the entire length of this country
and disproportionately affects the poor and racial and ethnic
minorities. It results in significant losses to victims, perpetrators,
families and communities and costs our country billions of dollars,”
said lead author Noe D. Romo, MD, primary care research fellow in
community health in the Department of Child and Adolescent Health at
Columbia University, New York. “There is a need for innovative methods
to identify potential interventions to address this issue and lessen the
burden it is having on our society.”
The survey included questions on how often students exercised, how
many sit-ups they did and the time of their longest run in the past four
weeks as well as whether they played on an organized sports team in the
Students also were asked if they had carried a weapon in the past 30
days or if they were in a physical fight or in a gang in the past year.
Nearly three-quarters of the respondents were Latino, and 19 percent were black. Fifty-six percent were female.
Results showed that females who reported exercising regularly had
decreased odds of being involved in violence-related behaviors:
- Females who exercised more than 10 days in the last month had decreased odds of being in a gang.
- Those who did more than 20 sit-ups in the past four weeks had decreased odds of carrying a weapon or being in a gang.
- Females reporting running more than 20 minutes the last time they ran had decreased odds of carrying a weapon.
- Those who participated in team sports in the past year had decreased
odds of carrying a weapon, being in a fight or being in a gang.
In males, none of the measures of exercise was associated with a
decrease in violence-related behaviors, which could be because a larger
proportion of males than females did not answer all of the survey
questions, Dr. Romo said.
“This study is only a start,” concluded Dr. Romo, who also is at
Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. “It suggests a potential
relationship between regular exercise and decreased involvement in
violent behavior. Further studies are needed to confirm this association
and to evaluate whether exercise interventions in inner-city
neighborhoods can decrease youths’ involvement in violence-related
To view the abstract, “The Effect of Regular Exercise on Exposure to Violence in Inner City Youth,” go to http://www.abstracts2view.com/pas/view.php?nu=PAS13L1_3165.8.
The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) are four individual
pediatric organizations that co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting – the
American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the
Academic Pediatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Members of these organizations are pediatricians and other health care
providers who are practicing in the research, academic and clinical
arenas. The four sponsoring organizations are leaders in the advancement
of pediatric research and child advocacy within pediatrics, and all
share a common mission of fostering the health and well-being of
children worldwide. For more information, visit www.pas-meeting.org. Follow news of the PAS meeting on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PedAcadSoc.