The Mental Benefits of Sports
Physical activity and exercise programs positively impact the mind and body.
We all know the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen for our overall health. The general idea is to eat a balanced diet and exercise five times a week for 30 minutes per session to improve your quality of life. However, your lifestyle routines, including participation in team sports and regular exercise, do more than just influence your physical health. Your mental health is influenced as well.
Learn more about the mental benefits of playing sports as well as the ways athletics affect people of all ages.
Mental Health Benefits of Sports
From your mood and quality of sleep to your communication and leadership skills, participation in sports affects your mental and emotional health each day.
Boost Your Mood
Need a burst of happiness? Get moving.
Physical activity stimulates neurotransmitters which induce feelings of pleasure. Whether you play a sport with a friend or teammate or go for a brisk walk, the effect of endorphins is the same. You feel happier and more relaxed.
In addition, participation in team sports gives you a moment to kick back and unwind with friends. Not only does the movement alone aid in improving your mood, but the social interaction in a recreational setting produces mental health benefits. You can relax, laugh, and connect with friends.
Reduce Depression and Anxiety
When you are actively engaged in sports, your mind is occupied with the activity at hand. You do not have time to focus on the stresses or worries of the day.
For those with mental health issues, regular physical activity keeps your depression or anxiety at bay. When you are depressed or anxious, you are less likely to get up and move around. The lack of movement then takes its own toll on your emotional well-being because you are not getting the rush of endorphins. Also since your mind is free to worry and stress, the lack of activity allows negative thoughts to increase.
To keep depression behind you, get up and get moving. This keeps your mind busy and reduces stress hormones in the body.
Improve Your Concentration and Focus
Stay active to keep your mind sharp!
Participating in sports improves your thinking and analyzing skills and helps you use good judgment. Oftentimes during sports, you have to quickly analyze a situation and make a decision or make a move. This keeps your eyes and brain alert improving your ability to hone in and concentrate on your tasks.
Get Quality Sleep
Having trouble sleeping? Get some exercise.
Physical activity through sports improves your sleep. The most obvious reason is that you exert energy, and it tires you out. Your body needs to rest and recover from the activity, and sleep is the best way to do that.
Getting better sleep has rollover benefits the next day. When you are well rested, you have more energy, feel better, and are in a better mood.
Boost Your Self-Confidence
Getting regular amounts of exercise through sports can boost your confidence in yourself. With each practice or game, you get stronger and your skills improve. This enhances your self-image. As you master your skills, you feel a sense of pride in your accomplishments, which can then be applied off the fields well.
Improve Your Social Skills
Participation in sports helps interact with others in a positive manner. This is especially true for children who are learning social cues and skills. Athletic activities help boost confidence, improve communication and listening skills, and teach the difference between being aggressive or assertive. Sports give you an opportunity to make friends and socialize and learn how to work as part of a team.
Promote Leadership Skills
The mental benefits of team sports goes a step beyond just improving social cues and communication skills. Participating in sports gives athletes leadership opportunities and skills that can then be used off the field.
Athletes learn to work together with teammates to accomplish a common goal. Team-building skills apply on and off the field. Sports help individuals learn to work with one another in school, at work, and in social situations. These skills are important leadership qualities.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
While your weight and form affect your physical health, it can also affect your mental health. Being at an unhealthy weight lowers your self-esteem and the way you perceive yourself. It can increase depression and negative thoughts.
However, one of the benefits of exercise is that it helps you lose weight or stay at your ideal weight. Physical activity and sports are recommended by the CDC as healthy ways to maintain your weight.
Additional Benefits of Sports
People of all ages benefit from participation in sports. By playing sports at a young age, children develop a better psychological mindset and social skills. They are also more likely to stay active as they get older.
Seniors and older adults also receive important perks of regular exercise and athletics. Those who exercise regularly are more likely to lead healthy lifestyles. The CDC recommends physical activities for seniors for the following reasons:
- Help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
- Keep the bones, muscles, and joints strong.
- Lessen the risk of depression and anxiety.
- Reduce swelling and discomfort from arthritis.
- Improve social support and interactions.
Keep Your Mind and Body Strong
Playing sports and getting regular exercise affect the mind and body. To protect yourself from injuries, remember to stretch before physical activity and to check with your doctor before starting any new or intense workouts.