Hundreds of participants in a Norwegian study showed that physical activity prevents depression in children.

A recent study conducted by a team of researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and NTNU Social Research found that children who were involved in physical activity regularly are less likely to develop depression.

The study was conducted on 800 children with ages ranging from 6 to 8. They were monitored over a period of two years. The researchers measured the physical activity of the kids through accelerometers that kids wore around their waists 24/7 for a week – only taking it off when bathing or showering. Their state of mental health was measured through questionnaires that all participants filled in.

Two years later, the same measurement methods were applied and here are the findings: children with moderate to vigorous physical activity were less likely to develop major depressive disorder.

“We also studied whether children who have symptoms of depression are less physically active over time, but didn’t find that to be the case”, said Silje Steinsbekk, one of the authors of the study and an associate professor in the department of psychology at NTNU.


Depression in children can be prevented by reglular moderate physical activity that the child enjoys engaging in.


Not all kids are prone to depression, but any child that has the following symptoms over a long period of time (three weeks or more) should be monitored closely, as depression in children is sometimes hard to spot and it can become chronic more easily.

Kids who may be suffering from depression:

  • Cry frequently
  • Are getting upset, irritated or angry easily
  • Are not involved in activities they used to like
  • Are eating less, or more than the usual, or they are having a different eating pattern overall
  • Are communicating less
  • Are losing old friends and not making any new ones


Also, depression in children with previously-diagnosed mental health conditions, such as attentional disorders, or anxiety, is more likely to appear whithing the 2-year frame.