Playing any type of sports benefits your mental well-being as much as it benefits your physical health.
According to a study by Dr. Keith Zullig and Rebecca White from West Virginia University, engaging in physical activities such as basketball and soccer and being part of a sports team can make you become more satisfied in life – and can help make you feel healthier. They say, “Our study demonstrates the benefits of youth sports participation on self-rated health and life satisfaction among young people at a crucial stage in adolescent development.” Findings of the study suggest that sports team participation may enhance school connectedness, social
support and bonding among friends and teammates.
The next time you engage in any sporting activities, remember its benefits to your mental health and general well-being. Here are a few key points:
Sports can help improve mood. Sports can make you feel better about yourself. If you want to get out of bad stupor or you just want to relax and unwind, shoot some hoops or kick some balls out in the field. Physical activities release chemicals in our brain that lightens our mood. In particular, team sports can also engage us in connecting with teammates in a playful setting.
Sports develop concentration. As we age, our mental skills decline. One healthy way to heighten and improve our memory and thinking abilities is to play sports. Studies show that combining muscle-strengthening activities and aerobics for at least 30 minutes for three to five days a week can help you concentrate and think more clearly.
“When you exercise and move around, you are using more brain cells,” says Dr. John Ratey, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, also the author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (2008). “Using more brain cells turns on genes to make more BDNF.” BNDF stands for brain-derived neurotrophic factor which can rewire your memory circuits better.
Sports trim down depression and stress. Engaging in sports is one way to relax. Whenever you involve yourself in any type of physical activity, your mind gets distracted from your troubles and problems, and thus, helps to get rid of all your negative thinking. Exercise decreases the stress hormones in your body such as cortisol and adrenalin and even perks up your endorphin hormones which are mood lifters. Give it a shot to experience what they call as post-workout mood mood boost.
Sports lets you sleep well. If you want to sleep better and sleep deeper, get some form of regular exercise. “It is essential that we identify behavioural ways to improve sleep,” says Phyllis Zee, MD, senior author and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Medicine. “Now we have promising results showing aerobic exercise is a simple strategy to help people sleep better and feel more vigorous.” She adds that when you improve your sleep, your physical and mental state improves as well.
Sports enhance self-confidence. One way to improve your self-confidence and self-esteem is to let it sweat by engaging in different types of sporting activities. As your skills improve, so does your self-confidence. Keep in mind that sports is about control and mastery which in turn, can bring out pride and self-confidence.
In fact, those who play in team sports are found out to have better grades in school. Matthew Irvin, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of South Carolina says that, “team sport is significantly related to higher grade-point averages and a higher likelihood of completing high school and enrolling in college.”
Sports lessen the risk of chronic illnesses. For those with asthma or those with Alzheimer’s disease, involving in any physical activity is the best way to improve your condition. Swimming, for instance, is good for people who have asthma because it engages the muscles used for breathing — but of course, you need to know your limitations. “If your asthma is under good control, you can and should exercise normally. Exercising when you have asthma can help reduce your symptoms, improve your breathing, and reduce your stress and anxiety,” says Rachel Taliercio, DO, a lung and allergy specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.
The next time you want to improve your mental awareness, have fun and play ball or swim laps at the pool with family members or friends.