LifeSkills training helps teens manage anger, lower blood pressure

September 10, 2012
A 10-week program that fits easily into the high school curriculum could give students a lifetime of less anger and lower blood pressure, researchers report. Credit: Phil Jones, Georgia Health Sciences University Photographer

A 10-week program that fits easily into the high school curriculum could give students a lifetime of less anger and lower blood pressure, researchers report.

Health and physical education teachers taught and to 86 ninth graders in Augusta, Ga., and found their ability to control anger increased, their anxiety decreased and their blood pressures were generally lower over the course of a day compared to 73 of their peers who received no intervention, according to a study published in the journal Translational Behavioral Medicine.

Among the 30 percent of participants with higher blood pressures, the diastolic measure – the bottom number reflecting pressure inside blood vessels when the heart is relaxed and filling with blood – decreased about two points, said Dr. Vernon A. Barnes, physiologist at the Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Health Sciences University.

Even a small downward shift in blood pressure in youth could substantially reduce hypertension risk and related over the long term and improve public health, the researchers said. The benefits held up at six months.

"We believe we have an effective method that any school could use to help curtail violence and keep adolescents out of trouble with an improved mental state that benefits their physical well-being," Barnes said. Further study is needed to measure the program's impact in hypertensive schoolchildren, he noted.

Escalating anger and violence among youths have been associated with increased and anxiety, which in turn increases blood pressure in adolescents, the researcher said. Additionally, self-reported feelings of anger have been shown to predict aggression in youth.

The program taught in 10, 50-minute sessions at two high schools in 2005 and 2006 is protocol-driven, fits easily into the school day and has implications for improved decision making and for adolescents in any venue, the researchers said. It appears to be the first study to examine the impact of stress management on blood pressure and indices of anger and anxiety in schoolchildren.

Drs. Redford B. Williams and Virginia P. Williams, founders of Williams LifeSkills Inc. and study co-authors, developed the 10 skills taught in William LifeSkills workshops. The former directs Duke University's Research Center and the latter led efforts to adapt the training for adolescents, citing its ability to and improve overall health and well-being in adults.

The lessons help adolescents learn to be assertive without being aggressive, make sound decisions about whether to act on negative thoughts and increase their positive interactions. Some stressful situations students worked through in class were real-life situations they shared with classmates. Their blood pressure was measured around the clock and they received pre- and post-testing to assess anger and anxiety levels.

High blood pressure problems in children are becoming increasingly common. About 30 percent of U.S. adults are hypertensive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while about 5 percent of children already show evidence of high .

Explore further: Meditation practice may decrease risk for cardiovascular disease in teens

Related Stories

Meditation practice may decrease risk for cardiovascular disease in teens

June 7, 2012
Regular meditation could decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in teens who are most at risk, according to Georgia Health Sciences University researchers.

Teens' lifestyle choices affect their blood pressure

July 10, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Teen girls who use birth control pills and teen boys who drink alcohol are at increased risk for elevated blood pressure, according to a new study.

Recommended for you

Dog ownership linked to lower mortality

November 17, 2017
A team of Swedish scientists have used national registries of more than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 to study the association between dog ownership and cardiovascular health. Their study shows that dog owners had a lower ...

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.