Background: Adolescence is often considered a period of heightened stress, and healthy active living behaviors may help those experiencing it to better cope with life stressors and increase their self-esteem. The 24-h movement guidelines for children and adolescents recommend ≥60 min per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, ≤ 2-h per day of recreational screen time, and 9–11-h of sleep per night for school-aged children or 8–10-h per night for adolescents. The objective of this study was to examine the association of meeting the 24-h movement guidelines with life stress and self-esteem among students in Ontario, Canada.
Methods: Self-reported data on movement behaviors, life stress and self-esteem were derived from the 2019 cycle of the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, a cross-sectional and province-wide survey of students in grades 7–12 aged 11 to 20 years (N = 6,932). Multivariable ordered logistic regression analyses were adjusted for the complex sample design of the survey and for important covariates.
Results: Overall, meeting all combinations of movement behavior recommendations were associated with lower life stress and better self-esteem compared with meeting none of the recommendations, except meeting the physical activity only or screen time only recommendations that were not associated with lower life stress. Meeting all 3 recommendations was associated with lower life stress (OR: 0.40; 95 CI: 0.30–0.53) and better self-esteem (OR: 0.29; 95% CI: 0.21–0.40). There was a dose-response gradient between the number of recommendations met (3 > 2 > 1) and lower life stress (p < 0.001) and higher self-esteem (p < 0.001), with meeting all 3 recommendations being the best combination.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that meeting the recommendations of the 24-h movement guidelines is associated with lower life stress and better self-esteem among adolescents.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute