LEBANON — Tweens who participate in a coached team sport at least a few times a week are less likely to try smoking, according to Dartmouth researchers.
The national study of preadolescents age 10 and 14 on the relationship between extracurricular activity and health risk behaviors, “The relative roles of types of extracurricular activity on smoking and drinking initiation among tweens,” was recently published in Academic Pediatrics.
Lead author Dr. Anna M. Adachi-Mejia, a member of Norris Cotton Cancer Center’s Cancer Control Research Program, said Friday the 6,522 study participants were also asked about other activities including other sports without a coach, music, school clubs, and other clubs in a telephone survey.
“The finding was that doing a team sport with a coach is associated with less smoking,” Adachi-Mejia said.
The study found that team sport participation with a coach was the only extracurricular activity associated with lower risk of trying smoking compared to none or minimal participation.
“The thing that’s important here is we’re looking at tweens, the pre-adolescent, and often adults think they are old enough to do their own thing, which can be true, but I think it’s a good thing to look at this age group and what are the good after school activities for tweens,” Adachi-Mejia said. “During an era of budget cuts and schools feeling like they don’t have the space, the after school time is one where I hope we can pay some attention. … Physical activity is something we want to endorse.”