Taking part in sport protects children who are abused or neglected from developing mental health problems in later life, according to a major public health study.

People who had adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) but regularly played sports as children were less likely to have a mental illness as an adult, the study found. People who had traumatic childhoods were also more likely to be mentally healthy if they took part in sport as adults.

The study confirmed a strong link between ACEs, which include sexual and physical abuse, parental separation and living with domestic violence, and mental illness as an adult.

It said people who had four or more ACEs were four times more likely to be receiving treatment for current mental illnesses and 10 times more likely to have self-harmed or felt suicidal than those who had experienced none.

The study from Public Health Wales (PHW) and Bangor University looked at what could help people with troubled upbringings. Published on Thursday, the report said: “Of childhood activities measured, only regular participation in sports showed a protective effect against mental illness.

– Steven Morris

Read more: Sport Protects Children That Suffered Traumatic Experiences

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