Can sport be good for you?

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By Sam Reale


A recent finding from Roy Morgan research shows adults who participate in sport are less likely to experience anxiety and depression than adult who don’t participate in any sporting activity.

The findings showed between 2013 and 2014, 14% of Australians aged 18+ who don’t participate in sport experience depression while the figure was 8% in those who do sporting activity. The findings were similar with anxiety (16% non-sports participant 12% who participate in sport) and stress (25% non-sports participant, 21% sports participant).

This difference is most striking among the under-25 age group, with all three conditions being far less common among those who play team sport on a regular basis. Incidence of anxiety fell from 31% to 17%, depression from 17% to 8%, and anxiety from 20% to 10%.

Anxiety, depression and stress are also less common in people from other age groups who regularly participate in team sports.

For example, 30% of Aussies aged 35-49 reported experiencing stress last year, but this fell to 24% of those who play regular team sport. Similarly, 13% of 25-35 year-olds suffered depression – compared with 6% of regular team-sport players from that age bracket.

What would the benefit of participating in a sporting activity be? Is it the fitness, the making of new friends, aiming towards a desired goal e.g. premiership, getting involved with the local community or a sense of achievement. One would think it would be all the above.

Then if it’s is a benefit, then where can we go to show our sporting prowess, and does a sporting club have the facilities to cope with an intake of extra participants and is sport for everyone?

According to Angela Smith, Group Account Director at Roy Morgan, “Whether it’s due to the endorphin rush of high-impact exercise, the satisfaction of working towards a shared goal, the social support system that comes with being part a team, or a combination of all these factors, the overall benefit of team sport on mental health is undeniable”.

The one thing that can’t be denied is mental illness is prevalent. The stigmas attached to it should come to an end.

Anyone who is depressed or who feels they can’t manage, needs support or information can contact the beyondblue Support Service via phone 1300 224 636

Support is also available  by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800. Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

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