Examining the Benefits of Practicing Extracurricular Activities on Mental Health and Well-being

Conference: The Barcelona Conference on Education (BCE2021)
Title: Examining the Benefits of Practicing Extracurricular Activities on Mental Health and Well-being
Stream: Mind, Brain & Psychology: Human Emotional & Cognitive Development & Outcomes within Educational Contexts
Presentation Type: Virtual Poster Presentation
Inês Soeiro, University of Porto, Portugal
Sofia Magalhães, University of Porto, Portugal
Teresa Limpo, University of Porto, Portugal


As a complement to children’s education at school, parents often enroll their children in extracurricular activities. This is a wise decision as those activities seem to increase students’ life satisfaction. However, little is known about the mediating mechanisms underlying this link. This study aimed to analyze whether the practice of extracurricular activities has a direct contribution to students’ life satisfaction as well as an indirect contribution, by reducing psychological distress. We asked 474 students from Grades 5 to 9 to indicate if they were involved in extracurricular activities, and to fill in two questionnaires to measure psychological distress (i.e., depression, anxiety, and stress) and life satisfaction. Results revealed that the practice of extracurricular activities was directly associated with lower levels of depression (b = -.24, p = .01) and anxiety (b = -.23, p = .01), as well as with higher levels of life satisfaction (b = .21, p = .01). Moreover, depression was negatively associated with life satisfaction (b = -.54, p < .001). Finally, we found an indirect link between the practice of extracurricular activities, depression, and life satisfaction (estimate = .13, 95% CI [0.04, 0.24]). Overall, the practice of extracurricular activities was associated with more life satisfaction, both directly and indirectly, by reducing the levels of depression. These findings emphasize the importance of promoting the involvement of students in extracurricular activities as a mean to foster their mental health and well-being, which is critical for school success, mainly in difficult times as those we are living in.

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