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Team Sports Pep Up Middle-School Kids
Date:9/28/2010

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- American middle-school students who participate in team sports appear to be both physically and mentally better off than those who don't, a new study suggests.

Researchers say the findings are the first to explore the potential health impact that team sports activity might have on pre-high school aged children, namely those between the ages of 12 and 14.

"Other studies have looked at older adolescents and consistently found a relationship between engaging in team sports and having a greater satisfaction in life and better self-reported health," noted study co-author Keith Zullig, an associate professor of public health in the department of community medicine at West Virginia University in Morgantown.

"And here we found that, although we don't know the exact cause and effect, it looks like the same thing is true for middle-school students," Zullig said.

Zullig and co-author Rebecca J. White of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine present their observations in the current online edition of the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.

The study does not explore how participation in individual sports (such as gymnastics, tennis or golf) might affect the mental and physical health of young teens. Nor does it set out to distinguish between various types of team sports (such as basketball versus football) in terms of which might confer the greater health benefit.

But in 2005, the authors conducted a combined general physical activity and health perceptions survey of 245 seventh- and eighth-graders (primarily white) in two public school districts located in southwestern Ohio.

More than 90 percent of the teens said they were engaged in some form of "vigorous physical activity," while 67 percent said they played team sports.

The students were then asked to describe their current level of satisfaction
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