A narrative review that explores the influence of physical activity on care experienced children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

Emily Whyte*, Bryan McCann, Paul McCarthy, Sharon Jackson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Abstract

Care-experienced children and young people are likely to experience early adversities that place them at increased risk of developing physical and mental health difficulties. Physical activity can help address the varied needs and interests of care-experienced children and young people and become a tool to manage mental health and well-being challenges. Growing research has explored the positive influence that physical activity can have on the lives of care-experienced children and young people, however, the literature has mainly focused on the barriers and enablers of engagement in physical activity. Though there is a growing amount of work in this area, there remains a need for further research that explores the influence that physical activity can have on the mental health and well-being of care-experienced children and young people. A narrative review was conducted to explore the qualitative literature that has captured the influence of physical activity on care-experienced children and young people’s mental health and well-being, including what has been meaningful and why. Additionally, exploring qualitative research has helped to prioritise care experienced children and young people’s voices, which tend to be overshadowed by the views of researchers, carers, or social care professionals. The findings of the review report that physical activity can influence the mental health and well-being of care-experienced children and young people by providing meaningful enjoyment, and the development of relational trust, skills, and emotional regulation. Further research is needed to provide a thorough representation of the changeable and long-term influence of physical activity on the mental health and well-being of care-experienced children and young people, whilst prioritising their voices.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalChild Care in Practice
Early online date12 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Oct 2023

Keywords

  • Care experienced
  • Physical activity
  • Mental health
  • Wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Pediatrics
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Community and Home Care
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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