Teens Playing School Sports Have Better Mental Health: Study

Mental Health News: New research found adolescents playing team sports in grades 8 through 12 report less stress and better mental health as compared to young adults.

Catherine M. Sabiston, Ph.D., of the University of Toronto and his team surveyed 850 students from 10 Canadian schools. They monitored students in each grade during the five years of secondary school about their participation in school sports, such as soccer, basketball, wrestling, and gymnastics.The participants were assessed three years after graduation about stress and depressive symptoms and how they rated their mental health on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent).

Results showed that playing school sports during adolescent years was significantly linked to lower depression symptoms, lower perceived stress, and higher self-rated mental health in young adulthood compared with not playing sports at all.

“The associations we have found show a long-term impact. School sport from ages 12 to 17 protects those youth from poor mental health four years later,” said lead author of the study published in Journal of Adolescent Health.

One investigator explained that school sports offer adolescents more opportunities to bond with their classmates, teachers, coaches, and seniors. Sports participants have exposure to a social and active environment.

“Single sessions of activity reduce anxiety, improve mood, and raise feelings of energy that last for several hours,” said Jack Raglin, Ph.D., a professor in the department of kinesiology at Indiana University-Bloomington. “Long-term participation can significantly improve conditions such as clinical anxiety and depression to a degree that rivals medication, both in adults and adolescents.”

According to the researchers, feelings of depression and high stress are found in 23 to 40 percent of youth. Therefore, the study findings have important implications for school administrators to recognize the psychological benefits of school sports and physical activity and come up with strategies to make sports accessible to all adolescents.

To Know More You May Refer To:

Jewett, R., Sabiston, C. M., Brunet, J., O’Loughlin, E. K., Scarapicchia, T., & O’Loughlin, J. (2014). School sport participation during adolescence and mental health in early adulthood. Journal of Adolescent Health, 55(5), 640-644. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.04.018

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