FitQ Points
Did It
Font Size

FIT Connection for Teens: Mood

How does emotional health tie in with being fit?
By Brenda Conaway
WebMD Feature

Your mind and body are tightly connected. "Sometimes we arbitrarily, artificially separate emotional well-being from physical well-being," says David Ermer, MD, child psychiatrist with Sanford Health. "They are intimately intertwined. Being positive, valuing yourself, respecting yourself, and having good self-esteem is part of being fit too."

How MOOD Fits in With the Overall FIT Platform

Emotional health is one of the four areas of the Fit Platform: FOOD, MOVE, MOOD, and RECHARGE. All four of these areas of life have an impact on your health -- and all four interact and influence each other.

Your MOOD can affect your motivation to MOVE your body. If you've ever blown off a chance to exercise after a particularly ego-busting day, you know that stress can lead to poor lifestyle choices. You may feel as though you don't have the time and mental energy to deal with exercise. "I've seen people who [are] stressed out drop out of activities like sports," says Ermer. That’s unfortunate, because if they could just take that first step, they’d find that moving could help them feel better. Instead, blowing off a workout leads to that spiral of feeling bad, not exercising, feeling worse, not exercising, and so forth.

Your MOOD often influences your ability to RECHARGE. How often has this happened to you? You've got a big test the next morning, and while the thing you need most is sleep, you've just checked the clock again for the fifth time: it's 2 a.m., and you are still wide awake. 

Stress can make it hard to sleep because you may be worried or anxious. Depression can also cause a lack of sleep. In fact, a National Sleep Foundation poll from 2006 found that of the kids aged 11 to 17 who reported being unhappy, 73% said they did not sleep enough at night.

Your MOOD can lead you to choose FOOD that is not as healthy. Often the foods we want to eat the most to try to soothe us after a bad day are the worst for us. And how easy is it to get fast food from a drive-through window? Too easy.

However, consoling yourself with food is a sure road to weight gain. (To learn more about the effect of MOOD on weight, see FIT Connection for Teens: Healthy Weight.) So it's best to nip that habit in the bud. Instead of giving in to comfort-food cravings, find healthy ways to manage your moods, such as going for a walk or bike ride, listening to music, or talking to a friend or family member.

Your MOOD can be profoundly and positively affected when you MOVE your body. Looking to cure a bad mood? Move your body! It will leave you feeling relaxed and in a better mood. Exercise is a known mood booster and stress reliever. "People who exercise regularly tend to feel they deal better with stress and tend to sleep better," says Ermer. "Moving your body is a very positive, pro-health way to deal with stress."

Reviewed on February 26, 2012