Role of Physical Activity and Sports in Mental Health of Youth: A Review Article

  • Dr. Saima Majeed Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, FC College a Chartered University.
Keywords: Physical Education, Sports, Mental Health, Youth, students


Mental health disturbances are getting significant attention over time for public health concerns. Physical activity (PA) and sports are presumed to have a vigorous role in decreasing the impact of depression, anxiety, and stress and enhancing one’s psychological and emotional well-being. The present systematic review was conducted to examine the role of physical activity and sports in the mental health of the young population so that recommendations for future research and therapy protocols could be made. Electronic databases including Medline, Science Direct, Psych Info, Pub med, Google Scholar, and Web of sciences were used for this review to maintain the reliability of the data. Keywords of physical activity, sports, mental health, and youth were used for data search for the last five years from 2016 to 2021. Full-length English language articles, mostly published in open-access journals were considered for the review. Based upon inclusion/exclusion criteria 20 articles were selected for the present review. Published articles both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies indicated a moderate impact of physical activity, exercise, and sports on alleviating symptoms related to depression, anxiety, stress, and substance-related problems. Moreover, physical activity and sports helped to improve social skills, positive self-image, cognitive functioning, and psychological well-being among youth. The relationship between physical activity, sports, and mental health was also determined by some of the demographic variables such as gender, education level, and socioeconomic status. Some studies also indicated an inverse relationship, especially in alcohol intake. To sum up it is concluded that there is a significant impact of physical activities and sports on the mental health of the young population. PA and sports not only decrease the already existing mental health-related issues e.g., depression, anxiety, stress, and suicidal behavior, but drug use also helps to maintain psychological well-being and quality of life.