ISSN: 1899-1955
Human Movement
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1/2019
vol. 20
 
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abstract:
Original paper

How does sport affect mental health? An investigation into the relationship of leisure-time physical activity with depression and anxiety

Katja Siefken
,
Astrid Junge
,
Lena Laemmle

Human Movement 2019 vol. 20 (1), 62-74
Online publish date: 2019/03/11
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Purpose
Physical activity (PA) can protect from developing mental disorders. Knowledge regarding optimal PA intensity, type, context, and amount for mental health is sparse. This study aims to determine the relationship between leisure-time PA and prevalence of depression and anxiety, and whether associations vary by PA amount, context, intensity, and type.

Methods
Overall, 682 recreational athletes (age: M = 33.0 years; SD = 12.4; 53% female) completed a questionnaire on personal characteristics related to their leisure-time PA behaviour, the Centre of Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7) scale. Effect sizes (Cohen’s d,η2 partial) and power analyses using G*Power were applied.

Results
Individuals who met PA recommendations (n = 596) reported lower depression scores (M = 11.69; SD = 8.57) than those who did not meet the recommendations (n = 86; M = 12.88; SD = 8.73). Lowest depression and anxiety scores were observed for indoor team athletes (M = 10.75; SD = 7.66 and M = 2.94; SD = 3.03, respectively), followed by outdoor individual athletes (M = 11.17; SD = 9.41 and M = 3.39; SD = 3.50, respectively). Under specific conditions, high depression scores were noted for vigorous-intensity PA levels (M = 20.5; SD = 4.94).

Conclusions
Meeting the WHO PA recommendations (moderate-intensity PA 150 min/week) reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, no linear dose-response relation was observed. No differences were found between in- and outdoor or team and individual sports but between sport disciplines. Prospective research to evaluate the reasons is needed.

keywords:

sport, recreational athletes, psychological disorders, mental wellbeing

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