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Exploring the Association Between Sport Participation and Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression in a Sample of Canadian High School Students

Jessica Murphy, Karen A. Patte, Philip Sullivan, and Scott T. Leatherdale

The mental health benefits of physical activity may relate more to the context of the behavior, rather than the behavior of being active itself. The association between varsity sport (VS) participation, depression, and anxiety symptoms was explored using data from 70,449 high school students from the Cannabis use, Obesity, Mental health, Physical activity, Alcohol use, Smoking, and Sedentary behavior study. The model adjusted for potential covariates; interactions by sex and participation in outside of school sport (OSS) were explored. Overall, 70% and 24% of respondents met or exceeded cutoff values for depression and anxiety, respectively. Students participating in VS had lower symptoms of anxiety and depression compared with nonparticipants. Results were consistent regardless of OSS participation; associations were strongest among students who participated in both VS and OSS and males. Participation in VS may prove beneficial for the prevention and/or management of depression or anxiety symptoms, particularly among males. An additive beneficial effect of OSS on depression and anxiety scores may exist.

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Associations Between Parent’s Perceived Neighborhood Environment and Objectively Measured Walkability With Their Children’s Physical Activity

Stephen Hunter, John C. Spence, Scott T. Leatherdale, and Valerie Carson

Background: Neighborhoods are one setting to promote children’s physical activity. This study examined associations between neighborhood features and children’s physical activity and whether season or socioeconomic status modified these associations. Methods: Parents (n = 641) of children aged 6–10 years completed the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale—Abbreviated. Walkability was objectively measured at 400, 800, and 1200 m around the centroid of participants’ postal codes. Children’s physical activity was measured via StepsCount pedometers and parental report. Regression analyses were performed with interaction terms for season and socioeconomic status. Multiple imputation was used primarily to triangulate the results for children with missing steps data (n = 192). Results: Higher perceived residential density and traffic hazards were significantly associated with lower squareroot transformed parental-reported physical activity and steps per day, respectively. Higher perceived aesthetics was associated with higher squareroot transformed parental-reported physical activity. Socioeconomic status modified 2 associations though they were not significant upon stratification. During winter months, better perceived infrastructure and safety for walking was associated with higher squareroot transformed parental-reported physical activity. No other significant associations emerged. Conclusion: Residential density, traffic hazards, and aesthetics are important for children’s physical activity. Few associations were modified by socioeconomic status or season. The need for objective and subjective measures of the neighborhood environment and children’s physical activity is apparent.