ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – Mockery during gym class could negatively affect a child’s likelihood to engage in future physical activity.

Researchers at Brigham Young University learned that both overweight and normal weight children  alike who experience some form of taunting while participating in physical education classes at school are much less likely to engage in sports and other forms of exercise less than just one year later, a news release from BYU states.

“Our finding that this applies to normal-weight kids also was novel,” lead author Chad Jensen, a psychology professor at BYU, said in the release.

For the study, students in the fourth and fifth grades at six different schools were asked to take a set of surveys. One year later, the same children completed the same surveys.

Through their answers, researchers found overall that various forms of bullying – such as making fun of a child during sports or not picking them for teams – decreased their chances of participating in physical activity down the road.

“We hope our study will raise awareness that educators should consider bullying prevention during physical education and [recess] when kids may be discouraged from being physically active because of teasing experiences,” Jensen noted.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend children and adolescents alike get at least one hour of exercise every day, in the form of both aerobic activities and other exercises that foster muscle and bone strengthening.

The study was published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

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