Longitudinal association between sport participation and depressive symptoms after a two-year follow-up in mid-adolescence

Diego Gómez-Baya*, Luis Calmeiro, Tania Gaspar, Adilson Marques, Nuno Loureiro, Miguel Peralta, Ramón Mendoza, Margarida Gaspar de Matos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


Sport participation has been advocated as a strategy to improve adolescents’ mental health. However, how these variables evolve during the adolescent years is uncertain. The objective of the present work was to examine the longitudinal associations of sports participation and depressive symptoms in adolescents. Participants were 525 Spanish adolescents (50.3% boys), aged between 12 and 15 years old (M = 13.45, SD = 0.69). They were enrolled in 18 secondary schools located in Andalusia (Spain) in the first two academic years of Compulsory Secondary Education. Data were collected in three waves, separated by one year, by administering self-report measures of depressive symptoms and sport participation. Repeated measures analyses of variance were conducted to examine the change in depressive symptoms and sport participation, and a latent growth curve model was tested to examine the change in depressive symptoms controlling initial sport participation and gender. At each wave, more frequent sport participation was related to lower depressive symptoms. Two years after the first assessment, adolescents became more depressed but not more active. Less active adolescents had more depressive symptoms in each assessment time. At all moments of assessment, girls were less active and reported more depressive symptoms. Moreover, girls had a higher increase in depressive symptoms than boys. Promotion of physical activity (PA) as a mental health strategy needs to consider gender differences as boys and girls have different patterns of presentation of depressive symptoms throughout adolescence.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number20
Early online date14 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2020


  • Adolescents
  • Depression
  • Health promotion
  • Physical activity
  • Mental health
  • Wellness


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