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

Exercise can make cells healthier, promoting longer life, study finds

September 22, 2017
Whether it's running, walking, cycling, swimming or rowing, it's been well-known since ancient times that doing some form of aerobic exercise is essential to good health and well-being. You can lose weight, sleep better, ...

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

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.