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FIT Connection for Kids: Mood

How does emotional health tie in with being fit?
By Brenda Conaway
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD

happy kids in circle looking downBelieve it or not, your mind and your body are closely connected. In fact, your emotions are one of the four parts of the FIT Platform: MOOD. "Being positive, valuing yourself, respecting yourself, and having good self-esteem is part of being fit too," says David Ermer, MD, a child psychiatrist with Sanford Health.

How MOOD Fits Into the FIT Platform

Here is how MOOD works with FOOD, MOVE, and RECHARGE.

Your MOOD can affect how much you want to MOVE your body. When you're happy, you probably want to play and jump and dance. But when you're sad, you probably want to hide in your room. And if you feel embarrassed about your body or feel like you're a klutz, you probably aren't going to want to exercise much either.

Kids who feel really pressured usually don't want to exercise. They might think they don't have the time. Or maybe they are being bullied or having problems at home and just can't worry about anything else.

"I've seen people who, stressed out, drop out of activities like sports," says Ermer. That’s too bad, because moving can help you feel better.

A bad MOOD can make it hard to RECHARGE. Has this ever happened to you? You've been fighting with your best friend, so you're upset and it's hard to sleep. Or you're looking forward to the field trip your class is going on tomorrow. And you can't fall asleep.

When you're stressed or excited, your body makes a chemical called adrenalin. It gives you a burst of energy -- and that's great when you need to run and move and be alert. But it's not so good to have in your body at bedtime. Feeling happy, safe, and calm makes it easier to sleep.

Your MOOD can make you want FOOD. You've had a bad day at school. You want a snack. What sounds good? Cookies? Candy? A cupcake?

It's actually science. These "comfort foods" are made up of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates help make a chemical in your brain that relaxes you. But these foods often have a lot of calories and few nutrients. They might make you feel better for a little while, but they aren't really healthy, especially when you eat a lot of them.

Your mood affects what you want to eat and how much, too. In a study, people could eat healthy grapes or unhealthy buttered, salty popcorn while watching a movie. People watching a funny movie ate more grapes. People watching a sad movie ate more popcorn. This study also showed researchers that people who are sad just eat more.

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