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Is Exercise Effective against Internet Addiction in College Students?


Clinical trial finds that exercise can promote sleep quality and improve mood in internet-addicted college students

Internet addiction is a growing concern in today's society, particularly among college students who often spend long hours online for academic or personal reasons. Studies have shown that excessive internet use can lead to negative effects such as poor sleep quality, harmful mood, and reduced heart rate variability. However, a recent clinical trial has demonstrated that physical exercise may be an effective way to combat these negative effects.

The study involved 46 college students with Internet addiction, who were randomly assigned to either the Internet addiction group (IA) or the Internet addiction exercise group (IA+EX). The IA+EX group underwent physical exercise for 12 weeks, three times per week, while the IA group did not perform any regular physical exercise during the experiment.

The results of the study were very promising. After the 12-week exercise program, the IA+EX group showed a significant decrease in the degree of Internet addiction, depression, and sleep problems, as measured by the Young's Internet Addiction Test (IAT) scale, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale, and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). In comparison, the IA group did not show any significant changes in these measures.

Furthermore, the IA+EX group also showed an improvement in heart rate variability (HRV), with a decrease in LFn (low-frequency component of heart rate variability) and the ratio of LF/HF (LF/HF stands for the ratio between the low-frequency and high-frequency components of heart rate variability (HRV). It is a measure used to assess the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems), and an increase in HFn (high-frequency component of heart rate variability). These changes indicate a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic functions of the autonomic nervous system, which can be disrupted by excessive internet use.

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Overall, the study suggests that physical exercise can be an effective intervention for college students with Internet addiction, helping to improve their sleep quality, reduce harmful mood, and balance their autonomic nervous system function. The findings of this study are particularly relevant given the increasing prevalence of internet addiction and related negative effects.

If you or someone you know is struggling with internet addiction, incorporating regular physical exercise into your routine may be a helpful way to combat the negative effects. Even simple activities like jogging, basketball, or outdoor training can make a difference. It's important to note that exercise should not be seen as a replacement for professional treatment or therapy, but rather as a complementary approach that can work in tandem with other interventions.


The clinical trial demonstrates that physical exercise can be an effective way to alleviate the negative effects of Internet addiction in college students. Regular exercise can help improve sleep quality, reduce harmful mood, and balance autonomic nervous system function. Incorporating exercise into one's routine can be an important step towards a healthier and more balanced life, both online and offline.

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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. CenTrial Data Ltd. does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. Treatments and clinical trials mentioned may not be appropriate or available for all trial participants. Outcomes from treatments and clinical trials may vary from person to person. Consult with your doctor as to whether a clinical trial is a suitable option for your condition. Assistance from generative AI tools may have been used in writing this article.