Background: Sexual and gender minority youth frequently experience bullying, which often contributes to higher depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem. Given that physical activity (PA) can mitigate depressive symptoms and improve self-esteem, we examined the moderating effect of PA on the relationship between bullying and mental health among sexual and gender minority youth. Methods: Data from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer National Teen Survey (n = 9890) were analyzed. Hierarchical regression analyses examined the influence of history and frequency of being bullied, PA, and the interaction of these variables on depressive symptoms and self-esteem. Simple slopes analyses were used to probe significant interactions. Results: Results indicated the importance of accounting for bullying history when examining effects of PA on mental health. PA was negatively related to depression (t = –4.18, p < 0.001) and positively related to self-esteem (t = 12.11, p < 0.001). Bullying frequency was positively related to depression (t = 19.35, p < 0.001) and negatively related to self-esteem (t = –12.46, p < 0.001). There was a significant interaction between bullying frequency and PA for depression (t = 4.45, p < 0.001) and self-esteem (t = –4.69, p < 0.001). Post hoc analyses suggested that the positive effects of PA on mental health may be limited to those not bullied because it had a negligible effect on those who were bullied. Conclusion: Results suggest that sexual and gender minority youth exercise interventions aiming to improve mental health should first address bullying history; otherwise, their effectiveness may be limited to those who have been bullied.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Journal of Sport and Health Science|
|State||Published - Jan 2023|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research uses data from the LGBTQ National Teen Study, designed by Ryan J. Watson and Rebecca M. Puhl in collaboration with the Human Rights Campaign, and supported by the Office for Vice President of Research at the University of Connecticut. The authors acknowledge the important contributions of Ellen Kahn, Gabe Murchison, and Liam Miranda in their support, conceptualization, and management related to the LGBTQ National Teen Study. This work was supported through funding by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (grant K01DA047918) awarded to Ryan J. Watson.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation