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Youth Sports Linked to Lower Levels of Depression

By Heidi Stevens, Reading Eagle, 04/15/19, 12:00PM CDT

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What happens on the field or mat or court or wherever they compete is about one-quarter of the experience.

There's research suggesting youth sports serve as an anti-depressant of sorts. The study, from Washington University in St. Louis, found that boys and girls who participate in team sports had larger hippocampal volumes, which plays a role in memory and response to stress. Adult depression, the study notes, is associated with shrinkage of the brain's hippocampus.

The findings, which were released in the journal Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, even link structured sports participation to less depression in boys ages 9 to 11. (For girls, sports involvement was linked to higher hippocampal volume but not lower depression, which researchers said might mean different factors contribute to depression in girls than in boys.)