University of Cincinnati

12/07/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/07/2017 17:48

Research Shows Yoga Can Reduce Risky Behaviors in Troubled Youth

By Melanie Schefft
513-556-5213

Photos by Upsplash and provided

Dec. 7, 2017

For some young people, dealing with life stressors like exposure to violence and family disruption often means turning to negative, risky behaviors -- yet little is known about what can intervene to stop this cycle.

But one long-term study by the University of Cincinnati looks at the link between stressful life events and an increase in substance abuse, risky sexual behaviors and delinquency in a diverse population of 18- to 24-year-old youths. The research also sheds light on distinct coping strategies that can lead to more positive outcomes.

As part of a 10-year study looking at risk-taking and decision-making -- or the lack thereof -- Jacinda Dariotis, UC public health researcher, spent 12 months focusing on early life stressors as a predictor of risky sexual behavior, substance abuse and delinquency for more than 125 at-risk youths. Surprisingly, she found a small number of the youths were already engaging in constructive coping behaviors on their own that will have positive outcomes later in life.

But what about the majority of troubled youth who cope by engaging in negative, risky and dangerous behaviors?

Results from the most recent segment of Dariotis' study were presented at the American Public Health Association conference in Atlanta, under the title,'Stress coping strategies as mediators: Toward a better understanding of sexual, substance and delinquency-related risk-taking among transition-aged youth.'

The study revealed that in spite of early life stressors, positive coping behaviors, either learned or self-generated, can actually have a protective effect.

'We found that many of these youths who had endured stressful life events and otherwise would have fallen into the risky behavior trap could actually have positive outcomes later in life because they chose to join in prosocial physical activities, yoga or mindfulness meditation,' says Dariotis.