J.D. DeFreese, a lecturer in the Exercise and Sport Science Department, researches the link between athletes’ mental health and their physical and social well-being. DeFreese said in an email the Gallup survey corresponds with already existing research.
“Physical activity, of which collegiate athletes participate in a lot, is a protective factor for positive lifespan mental and physical health outcomes, which could help to explain these findings,” DeFreese said.
The survey divided well-being into five categories — purpose, social, community, physical and financial — and measured whether a former athlete thrived in each category. Athletes succeeded at the highest percentage in purpose, social and community well-being, with 47 percent of former athletes thriving in three or more of the categories.
Bryan Noreen, who graduated from UNC in 2015 and ran on the cross country team, is now in a masters program for business analytics at the University of Tennessee.