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Table 1 Studies investigating the psychological and social health benefits of participation in sport for adults

From: A systematic review of the psychological and social benefits of participation in sport for adults: informing development of a conceptual model of health through sport

Reference Design* Method** Sample (n) Country Age (yrs) Cohort*** Sex**** Aim Sport Other PA Theory Key Finding(s) Psychosocial Outcomes Score (%)
[23] Quant. Cross. 1427 Belgium 20-65 Adult B Analysis of the relationship between sports participation and stress Favourite sports no sport, other sports/PA Mindful Movement theory Little difference in perceived stress and emotional distress existed in men and women across different sports. Significant associations were found between participation in walking and meditation sports with stress appraisal and emotional distress among women. Less stress and distress, less emotional distress (males) and increased social support 69
[24] Quant. Pros. Cross. 6751 Germany 18-45 Adult B Analysis of the effects of sport participation in long-term labour market variables, health and subjective well-being Sport at least monthly Less than monthly participation in sport Nil Positive mental health effects of sports participation included vitality, social functioning and role emotion. Sport has positive effects on health and subjective well-being. Vitality, social functioning, role emotion, subjective well-being 87
[25] Qual. Cross. 14 Australia 16-25 Adol. and adult M Explore connections between sport and civic engagement Sport Nil Phenomenological framework Grounded theory Sport participants reported mental and health benefits including feeling good, confident, ability to cope with hard times and a sense of belonging. Feeling good, confidence, coping with hard times, sense of belonging, resilience 67
[26] Quant. Cross. 16,627 England 16 yrs and older Adol. and adult B Investigate impact of sports participation on subjective well-being Sport No sport and non-social interaction sports Subjective wellbeing Sports participation positively associated with subjective well-being. Well-being/happiness 56
[27] Qual. Cross. 20 USA 17-23 Adol. and adult B Investigate mechanisms for creating sense of community within a sport setting College athletes Nil Sense of community. Grounded theory, Phenomenoligcal approach Five key factors (leadership opportunities, social spaces, competition, equity in administrative decisions, administrative consideration) were identified that fostered a sense of community within a collegiate sport context. Sense of community went beyond their sporting experience. Sense of community 71
[10] Quant. Cross. 818 Australia M 34-47 Adult F Examine health-related quality of life and life satisfaction in different forms of PA Club sport Walking and gymnasium Nil Women involved in club sport reported higher levels of mental well-being and life satisfaction compared with women engaged in the individual-based activities of walking and going to a gymnasium (ie participation in sport is associated with better mental well-being than other forms of PA). Club sport participants had better physical role functioning, vitality, social functioning and mental health. Mental health, life satisfaction, vitality, social functioning 81
[28] Quant. Long. 30 Australia M 24 Adult M Monitor changes in stress and recovery for Rugby League players Rugby League nil Nil Significant decreases in social stress were reported between weeks 1 and 4. Less social stress 56
[29] Quant. Cross. 19,842 UK M 45 Adult B Examine association between mental health and PA behaviours Leisure Time Sport Walking, Domestic PA Nil All types of PA associated with lower risk of psychological distress, with strongest effect observed for sport. Less psychological distress 93
[30] Quant. Cross. 791 USA M 20 Adult B Examined relationships among dimensions of athletic involvement (team sport, individual sport, athlete identity, jock identity) Team sport Individual sport and no sport Nil Participation in a team sport was associated with lower depression scores. Athlete identify mediated the relationship between team sport participation and depression. Lower depression score 73
[31] Quant. Cross. 1919 Belgium 20-65 Adult B Examine associations between 5 types of PA with different contents: housework, leisure active transport, biking to/from work, walking to/from work and sports participation and mental health Sport Housework, leisure transport, walking and bike to work Nil Sports participation was the only type of PA inversely associcated with both stress and distress. Less stress and distress 75
[32] Quant. Pros. 118 UK M 21 Adult B Test hypotheses that importance of ratings of life aspirations would mediate the effects of participation in sport on psychological well-being Competitive sport participation Recreation sport participation Self-Determination Theory Recreational athletes reported higher psychological well-being than competitive athletes. The moral worth of sport does not reside so much in the frequency with which individuals engage in sport but in the goals and values people express through their participation. Hedonic enjoyment and eudemonia wellbeing 44
  1. *Quant. (Quantitative): Qual (Qualitative).
  2. **Cross. (Cross-sectional): Pros. (Prospective): Long: (Longitudinal).
  3. ***Adol (Adolescent).
  4. ****M (Male): F (Female): B (Both Male and Female).