A systematic review of the impact of physical activity programmes on social and emotional well-being in at-risk youth

Added February 15, 2017

Read the full review here

It is difficult to determine the efficacy of physical activity programmes for improving social and emotional well being in at-risk youth.

Physical activity programmes have been identified as a potential strategy for improving social and emotional well-being in at-risk youth, who have a prevalence of depression and low self-esteem exceeding the general population. This review could not determine the efficacy of physical activity programmes for improving social and emotional well-being in at risk youth, due to the mixed findings and the high risk of bias.

Key Practitioner messages:

  • Physical activity programmes have the potential to improve social and emotional well-being in at-risk youth, but more rigorous trials are needed to evaluate their effectiveness.
  • As none of the studies included long-term follow-ups (i.e. >12 months), it remains untested whether the benefits associated with participation in physical activity programmes are sustained once youth return to their daily routines.
  • The quality of existing studies is poor and has not improved since earlier reviews.
  • Physiological and psychosocial factors may explain the beneficial effects of physical activity programmes on social and emotional well-being in at-risk youth.
  • Clinicians working with at-risk youth are encouraged to consider specific physical activity programmes to support social and emotional well-being and general health in this group.

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