As the nation begins to prepare for yet another COVID surge in the fall, one of the most troubling lingering consequences of the past two years is the negative impact on teen mental health. Nearly half of Gen Z (46%) confirm their mental health worsened during the pandemic, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Indeed, the isolation, increased screen time and sedentary lifestyle had a negative impact on many Americans — but none more than teenagers. However, studies show physical activity can reduce anxiety and stress, and improve mood. In fact, 9 out of 10 teens agree regular physical activity improves their overall mental health.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), only 15% of middle- and high school-age children met the recommended hour of physical activity a day during the past two years. An acute adolescent mental health crisis is now challenging parents, school administrators and health care professionals across the county.