NIH Research Festival
Background: Physical activity has been shown to improve mental health in individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with minimal side effects, unlike traditional pharmacotherapy that can result in drug interactions with increased side effects. However, the influence of physical activity on mental health among children with ADHD is understudied. We examined the relationship between current anxiety/depression and past-week physical activity and parental nativity among U.S. children with and without ADHD. We also analyzed whether parental nativity moderates the relationship between anxiety/depression and physical activity.
Methods: Data on children aged 6-17 years (n= 22,626) were derived from the 2016 to 2021 National Health Interview Surveys, cross-sectional surveys. We performed multivariable logistic regression analyses to assess the study objectives.
Results: Among children without ADHD, those who engaged in physical activity (versus did not) for 1 to 3 days, 4 to 6 days, and daily were less likely to experience anxiety/depression. The odds were also lower for children whose parents were immigrants compared to children whose parents were non-immigrants. For children with ADHD, engaging in physical activity for 1 to 3 days was associated with lower odds of anxiety/depression. Children whose parents were immigrants were less likely to experience anxiety/depression. Parental nativity significantly moderated the association between anxiety/depression among children with and without ADHD.
Conclusions: Physical activity reduced the risks of experiencing anxiety/depression among children, especially in children with ADHD and those whose parents were immigrants. Incorporating personalized physical activity in ADHD and anxiety/depression management can improve mental illness and ADHD symptoms among children.
Scientific Focus Area: Health Disparities
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