Sports lead to happy, healthy young adults

Dr. Keith Zulling and Rebecca White from West Virginia University found that “taking part in sports is good all around for young teens: physically, socially and mentally” (Science Daily).  Zulling and White studied middle-school teenagers and found that those “who are physically active and play on sports teams are more satisfied with their life and feel healthier” than other teens.

The study sought to explain the link between physical activity, specifically participation on sports teams; life satisfaction; and self-rated health concurrently.  Participants included 245 middle school students in seventh and eighth grade and between the ages of 12 and 14 years.  Boys and girls were included in the study.  Participants completed questionnaires that assessed “their physical activity levels, their overall satisfaction with life and [asked] them to describe their own health.”

The study compared vigorous physical activity, completed within the last week, to participation on a sports team.  Boys did not indicate that participating in vigorous activity in the last week had an effect on their life satisfaction or self-rated health.  Girls that participated in vigorous physical activity within the past week, on the other hand, were “significantly more satisfied with their life compared to girls who had not.”  However, the participation in vigorous activity did not affect girls’ impression of their self-rated health.

Playing on a sports team, though, “was linked to higher life satisfaction in both boys and girls.”  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.”

Participation on a sports team not only promotes physical activity but also influences young adults’ impression of their life satisfaction.  Sports teams also allow young adults access to a social network they may be more keenly aware of missing if not on a sports team.

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