By Golf Australia.
We all know sport – from golf or cycling through to footy or netball – is good for our health.
But University of Southern Queensland researchers are going a step further to examine whether playing sport can protect menopausal women against mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety – and the tragic outcomes often associated.
Lead researcher Andrea Lamont-Mills said team sport and group-based physical activity could provide a strong sense of connectedness and belonging, both key suicide protective factors.
“Despite what we (might) think, young women are not the most at-risk age group for taking their own lives,” Professor Lamont-Mills said.
“It is women aged 40-59 who are at the highest risk of suicide, which is also around the age when most women start to experience symptoms of menopause.”
Professor Lamont-Mills said this was the first research program to investigate the relationship between sport and suicidal behaviour with a focus on older women athletes, particularly menopausal women.
“We are interested in how women’s mental health may be influenced by going through menopause and whether participation in sport may be psychologically beneficial for menopausal women,” she said.
“The outcomes from this research could be used to support the development of cost-effective, targeted sport programs for menopausal women which aim to reduce rates of suicide and depression.
“We need to start by better understanding why women aged 40-59 are more at risk of taking their own lives and whether menopause may play a part. Then look at whether sport can positively influence women’s feelings of social connectedness and mental health in this age group.”
Female engagement senior manager Chyloe Kurdas said Golf Australia encouraged female golfers to play a role in this important study.
“Golf Australia recognises the diverse needs of women and girls across the lifespan. We also know that they’re attracted to golf for many reasons, particularly in how golf facilitates social connection,” Kurdas said.
“With connection playing a critical role in offsetting some of the wellbeing challenges facing women as they age, we see golf as a great wellbeing tool to support women in the broader community.
“We support the University of Southern Queensland in embarking on this ground-breaking research and encourage the women in our golf community to participate in survey.”
USQ researchers are seeking women aged 35-65 to take part in the study by completing an online survey. Both women who participate in sport and those who do not are needed.