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The State of Youth Health in America

We see it on the news, social media, and in our everyday lives. Although the outlook might be bleak, particularly based on recent trends, many have hope. Still, it’s hard to know where to start, and how to take active steps towards prevention and improvement.

The issue?

The state of youth mental and physical health.

Whether this affects you directly or not, the youth in our country are struggling and it is going to require the help of everyone to make a difference. Even if you don’t think you know someone who is struggling, 20% of all youth, ages 12-18, live with a mental health condition. So, odds are you do.

Out of the almost half of all adults who have a mental health condition, 50% of these cases are developed by age 14, and 75% by age 24. Curbing the downward trend of America’s mental health crisis starts with helping our youth. They are, of course, the future of our nation.

But before things get better, there are other negative trends that are worth addressing.

Since the pandemic, kids have been spending more time indoors and on devices, so daily physical activity levels have decreased as well. Only 24% of youth nationally, and 22% in the state of Tennessee, meet the recommended 60 minutes per day of physical activity.

If you’re joining us from Nashville, here’s another staggering statistic: 36% of youth throughout Davidson County are considered obese.

With facts like these, how do we even begin to address the youth health crisis?

Thankfully, there is a straightforward, accessible method to fighting these issues. This solution has been shown to decrease both the risk and effects of mental illness, lower the probability of contracting numerous heart and health conditions, and even boost energy and improve sleep.

And it’s not a magic pill.

It’s exercise.

Surprised? The beneficial effects of exercise are pervasive and well-researched, yet so many people still ignore what should be an enjoyable and productive activity. There are many reasons for this, including everything from toxic fitness culture to facility accessibility, but all of these thought patterns start with our youth.

It is important to begin education about health and wellness (physical, mental, and emotional) from a young age in order to establish healthy, life-long habits. Having access to this knowledge, and being part of a community based in health and wellness, can impact all aspects of a child’s life.

When it comes to school, for example, physical activity has been shown to improve attention and focus, as well as directly affect the brain with enhanced neuron regeneration, reduced inflammation, and quicker neuron-to-neuron communication. And sure, exercise reduces stress in a general sense, but did you also know that participating in exercise outside can reduce cortisol levels by an additional 15%?

Even just being part of a community creates a sense of belonging and purpose that so many children are looking for.

The issue at hand is evident, and the solution undeniable.

So, what are we waiting for?

Let’s get America’s youth up and moving. Together, we can create a new standard for youth physical, mental, and emotional health, starting right here in Nashville, Tennessee. We are well on our way to building a happier, healthier tomorrow, are you with us?

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Alexa, I 100% agree with this!

America has an increasing health crisis, especially with the youth. Youth today are far off the usual activity levels from past generations. It's one of the reasons why I believe the work done through bKYND is extraordinary and why I wanted to join the team. Youth are not only facing an academic decline but there is also a significant physical health decline that bKYND is addressing. I found this article insightful!

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