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Too Many Weekly Sports Sessions could harm Teenagers’ Wellbeing

Update Date: Nov 21, 2013 01:56 PM EST

Even though physical activity is extremely important for people of all ages, a new study is reporting that too many weekly sports sessions could actually harm teenagers' wellbeing. This study found an inverted U shaped relationship, which means that too little sports activity is also detrimental to teenagers' wellbeing. The researchers concluded that teenagers should invest 14 hours per week participating in sports in order to maximize the benefits. 14 hours is double the official recommended time teenagers should participate in sports per week.

The research team recommended 14 hours per week after interviewing over 1,200 people between the ages of 16 and 20 with the average age of a little under 18. Half of them were males and around nine percent of the entire sample could be considered obese or overweight. The participants were from Switzerland and the interviews were conducted between February 2009 and January 2010. The team used the World Health Organization's (WHO) scoring criteria when they measured the participants' mental and physical health. The scoring criteria use a scale from zero to 25 with anything below 13 being considered poor wellbeing.

The researchers separated the data based on weekly sports participation. The groups were low, average, high and very high with people participating for 0-3.5 hours, 3.6 to 10.5 hours, 10.6 to 17.5 hours and over 17.5 hours per week respectively. The team calculated that 35 percent of the people belonged to the low group, 41.5 percent were in the average group, 18.5 percent in the high group and five percent in the very high group.

The researchers found that teenagers in the low and very high groups were two times more likely to have a wellbeing score of under 13. People in the high group were 50 percent less likely to have a wellbeing score below 13. The researchers found that the average wellbeing score was 17.

The study was published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

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