Most parents want their children to participate in sports because they participated and enjoyed the exercise, commaraderie and healthy competition. But now, a new study shows a major advantage for young teens, that goes well beyond the benefits we all believed about sports participation.
A recent study reported in Science Daily and conducted by Dr. Keith Zullig and Rebecca White from West Virginia University shows that middle-school teenagers who are physically active and play on sports teams are more satisfied with their life and feel healthier.
These findings are critical because many studies coming out lately point to the extreme stress levels and depression that teens of all ages in the U.S. experience these days. The cause is listed as a result of extreme stress on families from economic realities these days and the rippling effect on the children.
The authors explored the relationship between physical activity (including sports participation), life satisfaction and self-rated health concurrently, for the first time, among 245 middle school students in grades 7 and 8.
Interestingly, for boys, participation in vigorous activity had no effect on either life satisfaction or self-rated health; however, In girls, those who had taken part in vigorous activity in the last week were significantly more satisfied with their life compared to girls who had not, but participation in vigorous activity had no effect on their self-rated health.
Playing on a sports team was linked to higher life satisfaction in both boys and girls. In addition, boys were five times more likely, and girls 30 times more likely, to describe their health as fair/poor when they were not playing on a sports team.
The authors concluded: "Our study demonstrates the benefits of youth sports participation on self-rated health and life satisfaction among young youth at a critical juncture in adolescent development. Our findings suggest that sports team participation may enhance school connectedness, social support and bonding among friends and teammates."