Don’t cry, run: Exercise can help bullied teens


Bullying has continued to evolve and branched out into cyberspace, while children continue to be tormented by others at school; outcast by students. In 2011 alone, reported 28 percent of U.S. students in grade six through 12 experienced bullying. Fortunately, there may be a new way to help children deal with the effects of bullying.

The effects of bullying

Bullying will torment some and destroy others. The bully may also be a tortured soul who takes out anger and pain on others. No matter the case, the effects of bullying can lead to depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide.

According to, children who are bullied will experience:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • An increase in feelings of sadness and loneliness
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • A loss of interest in activities the child used to enjoy

Suicide is a possible effect of bullying, but is not the first result. Varying levels of depression and anxiety are more common among bullied individuals. Exercise can help with levels of depression and anxiety, even if the individual is bullied or not. As Mayo Clinic explains, exercise can release, “Feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression.” Exercise can also help in, “Reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression,” and increase, “Body temperature, which may have calming effects.” A study applies the idea of exercise benefitting psychological health to children who were bullied and finds satisfying results.

Take the pain out on the pavement

The study is published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, led by researchers Erika Edwards, Ph.D., Jeremy Sibold, Ed.D., Dianna Murray-Close, Ph.D., and James J. Hudziak, MD. The researchers find exercise can benefit the psychological health of bullied U.S. youth.  The study reviewed participants from the 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Researchers discovered, “30 percent of students reported sadness for two or more weeks, 22.2 percent reported suicidal ideation, and 8.2 percent reported suicide attempt in the previous 12 months.” There was a 23 percent decrease in suicidal ideation and attempt in the bullied students who were physically active at least four times a week.

For the bullied teen, exercise may help decrease the feelings of depression, sadness and suicidal thoughts. Exercise not only benefits physical health but helps people facing depression and anxiety relax and calm down a bit. In the cases where a bully can attack one through cyber space, leaving the house for a small run can be a factor in helping to realize the bully is insignificant.

Physical exercise is not a miracle cure for internal and behavioral issues. Treatment may require more than a few sessions of therapy or a medication. White River Academy provides residential treatment and care for troubled boys from ages 12 to 17. The academy follows a boarding school format, offering guidance through a disciplined education program and instilling character values through service projects to promote positive growth. For more information or to register, feel free to call 866-520-0905.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top