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Teens who play sports have a better shot at mental health

Harold Mandel's picture
playing sports

Natural health enthusiasts have long been aware that a healthy lifestyle promotes mental health. The ingredients of a healthy lifestyle include good nutrition, daily exercise, fresh air and sunshine, meditation, adequate rest and sleep, and as positive an attitude about life as is reasonable. Recent research shows that teens who play sports increase their chances of being mentally healthy later in life.

School sports participation promotes mental health

Researchers investigated the association which exists between participation in school sports during adolescence and mental health in early adulthood reported the Journal of Adolescent Health. It was found that participation in school sports during adolescence serves as a statistically significant predictor of several important mental health factors including:

1: Lower depression symptoms

2: Lower perceived stress

3: Higher self-rated mental health in young adulthood

It has been concluded that school participation in sports may protect against poor mental health during early adulthood. Therefore it has been suggested that it may be warranted to support policies aimed at increasing school sport participation as part of public health strategies to promote mental health.

It appears to be true that adolescents who are involved in school sports have better chances for mental health when they are young adults reports Health Behavior News Service which is part of the Center for Advancing Health. Protection from stress and depression may be seen with school sports due to several factors including:

1: Provision of regular exercise

2: Social bonding

3: A sense of mastery over a skill

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The new research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health conveys that adolescents who play team sports in grades 8 through 12 suffer from less stress and experience better mental health as young adults. Lead author Catherine M. Sabiston, Ph.D., of the University of Toronto says it is therefore important that school administrators recognize the significance of participation in sports and physical activity.

The association between sports association and mental health is long term

The association between sports association and mental health appears to be long term. It has been observed that school sports participation from ages 12 to 17 protects those young people from poor mental health four years later. School sports participation has been seen to offer some protection against feelings of depression and high stress among participants.

Sabiston says it is not well understood why school sports has such a positive impact on mental health. It can only be speculated that unique effects are due to many factors including:

1: Providing adolescents with opportunities to bond with other students

2: Helping students feel connected to their school

3: Offering opportunities to interact with their peers and coaches

Overall school sports offers students a healthy social and active environment.

Even single sessions of activity are good for mental health

Jack Raglin, Ph.D., who is a professor in the department of kinesiology at Indiana University Bloomington says there is a great deal of evidence that exercise provides significant psychological benefits. Raglin says decreased anxiety, improved mood, and increased feelings of energy that last for several hours are seen with even single sessions of physical activity.

It has been observed that long-term participation in sports can significantly improve conditions such as clinical anxiety and depression. There are also significant protective psychological changes seen in sports players which include the feelings of mastery and accomplishment which come along with developing a sports skill.

This research adds support for the position that healthy lifestyles are good for mental health. Along with good nutrition, daily exercise, fresh air and sunshine, meditation, adequate rest and sleep, and working on as positive an attitude about life as possible, playing sports can help nurture mental health. All of these factors can help avoid the use of drugs for the prevention and treatment of mental illness all of which have serious side effects and generally cause more harm than good.