Too much time spent playing
sports can be as bad as too little time for teens, a new study finds.
Swiss researchers found the
greatest benefit seemed to be associated with 14 hours of sports a week. That's
higher than European, American and World Health Organization (WHO)
recommendations of at least seven hours of physical activity a week for
Researchers Arnaud Merglen,
at the University of Lausanne, and colleagues reported their findings online in
the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
They asked more than 1 200
participants aged 16 to 20 in Switzerland about their levels of sports
participation. In addition, they assessed the participants' physical and mental
well-being using a WHO scale of zero to 25. Scoring below 13 indicated poor
Participants were evenly
split between males and females and their average age was just under 18. About
9% were overweight or obese. The average well-being score for all the teens was
Mental and physical benefits
Weekly sports participation
of zero to 3.5 hours was considered low and seen in 35% of teens. Between 3.6
and 10.5 hours was considered average and seen in 41.5% of participants. High
levels of 10.6 to 17.5 hours were reported by 18.5% of participants, and very
high levels of more than 17.5 hours were reported by 5% of tens.
Teens in the low and very
high groups were more than twice as likely as those in the average group to
score below 13 on the well-being scale, according to a journal news release.
Peak scores of well-being
were seen among teens who did about 14 hours of sports a week. However, the
protective effect was reversed after more than 17.5 hours of sports a week.
Regular exercise is known
to provide mental and physical benefits by reducing stress and anxiety, and by
boosting self-esteem and brain power, the researchers said.
Although doubling the
recommended weekly time spent playing sports to 14 hours seems to be good for
the mental and physical health of teens, going beyond this seems to be harmful,
the researchers concluded.
The American Council on
Exercise has more on teen fitness.