Being in a sports club is good for mental health

August 16, 2017

Science Daily/Medical University of Vienna

While so-called social networks are booming and Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp have millions of users in Austria, "real" social contacts are perceptibly declining. Researchers have now investigated the effect that being an active member of a sports club has on our health. Apart from the beneficial effect of regular exercise, the main finding of the meta-study is: active membership has a positive effect upon mental health.


Hans-Peter Hutter will present the study this coming Tuesday (22 August, 16-17:30 hrs, Flora Hall) as part of a partner session at the European Forum Alpbach under the title "The sports club as a health driver."


The main health impacts from the 1,685 reviewed papers on the subject of "Sports Clubs and Health" are as follows:


·      Being an active member of a sports club during adolescence helps to integrate a person into society "and helps to stop young people from going down the wrong path," says Hutter.

·      Active membership of a sports club increases a young person's self-confidence -- "especially in the case of girls."

·      Active membership of a sports club has a beneficial effect upon well-being and mental health (e.g. vitality). Says Hutter: "These effects are much greater than those resulting from individually organised sporting activities."

·      Members of sports clubs are generally (more) content with their lives.

·      Being an active member of a sports club is fun and also provides socialisation. This in turn leads to more regular sporting activities.

·      The beneficial health impacts of the social aspect of sports clubs were observed in all age groups and in both genders.


According to the authors (Hans-Peter Hutter and Peter Wallner from MedUni Vienna, Anna Wanka from Vienna University; Christian Gormász, Anna-Maria Wiesner and Rainer Rößlhuber from BSO), medicine often underestimates social aspects and rarely mentions their positive impact upon health -- and this equally applies to sport.


Finally, recent studies have also indicated that an active social life is beneficial in the prevention of dementia. Says Hutter: "Social contacts keep you vital, because you have to respond to your opposite number. This improves your cognitive abilities. Playing sport in a club has general psychosocial benefits -- that is also a unique feature of a group activity."

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