Practicing this type of sport can affect our mental health

With summer approaching, we tend to get exercise (again). Some to prepare for what they call the “summer body” and others (because all bodies are beautiful) are encouraged by the sun and the long summer days. In general, practicing physical activity offers many health benefits. But researchers at California State University have made a very surprising finding: Some sports have deleterious effects on the mental health of their followers.

Individual sports increase the risk of depression

According to a study published in June 2022 in the scientific journal Plos One, children and adolescents who play individual sports such as tennis, gymnastics, athletics or even boxing are said to be more subject to psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression or attention disorders or to socialization.

To arrive at these conclusions, the experts spent ten years studying the behavior of more than 11,200 children aged 9 to 13. They were then classified into four categories based on their participation in a team sport, an individual sport, both, or their absence from a regular sporting activity. Results: Children who participated in team sports such as football, basketball or handball were less prone to mental disorders, also compared to children who did not participate in sports.

Competition, the source of the felt stress

“To our great surprise, young people who only played individual sports, such as gymnastics or tennis, had more mental problems than those who did not play team sports,” the study authors point out.

To explain the prevalence of psychological problems in individual sports, the experts’ hypothesis raises “the demand for performance” that rests entirely on the child or adolescent. The sometimes unhealthy pressure from those around you can develop the risk of depression and frailty in budding athletes. American psychiatrist Julian Lagoy explains: “It’s easier to lose in a team sport because you don’t have all the blame for the loss on your shoulders. When you win or lose as a team, you share the gain or loss with others, making losing more bearable and winning more fun.”

In reality, it is above all competition, and the failure that results from it, that is at the origin of this phenomenon. Because the sport itself can only be beneficial if it is practiced in a healthy environment.

Group sports activities: solidarity and camaraderie

The opposite effect has also been observed: team sports would be beneficial for maintain the youngest’s good mental health, the study reveals.

Conversely, “child and adolescent participation in team sports appears to be associated with better psychosocial health compared to individual activities,” the California researchers explain, specifying that supporters of collective sports are less likely to suffer from anxiety, anxiety and depression disorders.

Unlike a long-distance race or a boxing round, losing a football match would place the disappointment on the entire team and not on one person’s shoulders. Also, social interactions within a team generate a form of solidarity and camaraderie that lone athletes should miss.

for further

Top athletes lift the veil on psychological problems

Constant pressure, incessant travel, environment, loneliness… The daily life of top athletes is characterized by stress and anxiety. Some even consider quitting their careers in the name of their mental health. Like tennis champion Naomi Osaka, who crashed out of the Roland Garros tournament in May 2021 and revealed the depression she suffered from, professional athletes are beginning to speak out about their mental state. But this condition doesn’t just affect champions.