Weekly sport practice and adolescent well-being

Arch Dis Child. 2014 Mar;99(3):208-10. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2013-303729. Epub 2013 Nov 20.


Objective: Sport practice is widely encouraged, both in guidelines and in clinical practice, because of its broad range of positive effects on health. However, very limited evidence directly supports this statement among adolescents and the sport duration that we should recommend remains unknown. We aimed to determine sport durations that were associated with poor well-being.

Methods: We conducted a survey including 1245 adolescents (16-20 years) from the general Swiss population. Participants were recruited from various settings (sport centres, peers of sport practicing adolescents, websites) and asked to complete a web-based questionnaire. Weekly sport practice was categorised into four groups: low (0-3.5 h), average (≈ recommended 7 h (3.6-10.5)), high (≈14 h (10.6-17.5)) and very high (>17.5 h). We assessed well-being using the WHO-5 Well-Being Index.

Results: Compared with adolescents in the average group, those in the very high group had a higher risk of poor well-being (OR 2.29 (95% CI 1.11 to 4.72)), as did those in the low group (OR 2.33 (1.58 to 3.44)). In contrast, those in the high group had a lower risk of poor well-being than those in the average group (OR 0.46 (0.23 to 0.93)).

Conclusions: We found an inverted, U-shaped relationship between weekly sport practice duration and well-being among adolescents. The peak scores of well-being were around 14 h per week of sport practice, corresponding to twice the recommended 7 h. Practicing higher sport durations was an independent risk factor of poor well-being.

Keywords: adolescent; mental health; overtraining; sport; well-being.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Data Collection
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sports / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult