Playing sports may reduce mental health issues in adults: Study

WASHINGTON: Adolescents who play contact sports, including football, are no more likely to experience cognitive impairment, depression or suicidal thoughts in early adulthood than their peers, according to a study.

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder in the US conducted the study on nearly 11,000 youth followed for 14 years.

The study, published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, also found that those who play sports are less likely to suffer from mental health issues by their late 20s to early 30s.

“There is a common perception that there’s a direct causal link between youth contact sports, head injuries and downstream adverse effects like impaired cognitive ability and mental health. We did not find that,” said Adam Bohr, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The study comes on the heels of several highly-publicised papers linking sport-related concussion among former professional football players to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), cognitive decline and mental health issues later in life, the researchers said.

Such reports have led many to question the safety of youth tackle football, and participation is declining nationally, they said.

However, few studies have looked specifically at adolescent participation in contact sports. (AGENCIES)