In April 2018 researchers from Iceland, USA and Norway published the results of their study to assess the association between screen time and physical activity with mental health in adolescents. A total of 315 adolescents (average age 16 years) were included in the study. Information on vigorous physical activity, screen time and mental health status (symptoms of depression, anxiety, self-esteem and life satisfaction) was collected via questionnaires. In addition actual physical activity undertaken over a week was measured by an accelerometer, a device for measuring the acceleration of a moving body. Results showed that less screen time (below the group average of 5 hours/day) and more frequent vigorous physical activity (over 4 times per week) were individually associated with fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and life dissatisfaction. In addition those individuals who reported both less screen time and more frequent vigorous physical activity had the lowest risk of reporting symptoms of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and life dissatisfaction. The researchers concluded by stating that the findings support guiding the young towards a more active and less sedentary/screen based lifestyle.
Hrafnkelsdottir SM et al. Less screen time and more frequent vigorous physical activity is associated with lower risk of reporting negative mental health symptoms among Icelandic adolescents. PLoS One. 2018 Apr 26;13(4):e0196286.