According to new research, the high rates of melancholy and anxiety that adolescent athletes who had their sports suspended due to the COVID-19 epidemic reported experiencing considerably decreased a year after being able to resume competing.
The author of an abstract, “The Influence of Return to Sport on Mental Health, Physical Activity and Quality of Life Among Adolescent Athletes During COVID-19,” will present his findings during the AAP 2022 National Conference and Exhibition in Anaheim, CA.
“For decades, organized sport participation has been shown to have significant physical and mental health benefits for adolescents, but the COVID-19 pandemic really made this even more clear,” said the author, Drew Watson, MD, MS, a team physician for the University of Wisconsin Athletics.
“The cancellation of sports in the early pandemic was accompanied by decreased physical activity and quality of life, as well as startlingly high levels of anxiety and depression. Although the return to sports has been associated with large improvements in physical activity levels, quality of life and mental health, we are still seeing higher levels of anxiety and depression than before COVID-19, suggesting that this will remain a vitally important priority for years to come.”
In May 2020, after COVID-19-related sport cancellations, and after returning to sports in May 2021, a total of 17,421 youths countrywide completed surveys with demographic and sport participation information.
Adolescent athletes reported low levels of physical activity, poor quality of life, and high rates of anxiety and despair when sports were canceled.
Those athletes who were able to resume their sports one year later reported appreciably higher levels of physical activity and quality of life. There was a roughly 50% drop in the percentage of teenagers who reported moderate to severe anxiety or sadness.
According to Dr. Watson, having the chance to play organized sports can significantly improve an adolescent’s quality of life and mental health.