Dr David Lyreskog, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Psychiatry, comments:
We like to think that athleticism and doing sports is good for us, as it can offer a sense of achievement, and teach us valuable skills such as perseverance and team spirit. People are inspired by incredible athletes and their achievements; however, do these athletes make appropriate targets of aspiration – for young people in particular?
Exercise vs sports
Exercise and top-level sports differ in some significant ways. Where exercise has proven over and over again to be an excellent means to promote not only physical health, but also well-being and mental health, professional sports may not be very healthy.
During the Olympics alone, about 11% of the athletes incur injuries. In elite sports teams, the prevalence of depression and anxiety is sometimes as high as 45%, and in adolescent elite sports the prevalence of eating disorders is approximately 14%. The pursuit of performance – of excellence – does not appear to be a healthy one.