Does Sports Improve Mental Health?
The Benefits of Sports on Mental Health Sports are an important part of many people’s lives, but why? For some, it’s just about physical health, but there are others who say that sports also improve mental health and make one happier overall. Regardless of the reason, it’s clear that sports do have their advantages over other activities and help you improve your health in general – especially mental health. In this article, we’ll discuss what some of these benefits are and how they can be used to improve your mental health even more so than your physical health.
Sports are social
Having a strong social network is one of the best ways to maintain good mental health. Since social activities are typically easier to find in active communities, it’s not surprising that people who engage in sports often have better mental health. According to a recent study, getting involved in any form of team-oriented exercise could improve your mental health by up to 52%. The same researchers also found that being active and having friends was more important than how many times you meet each week or how physically active you were on your own. Other studies have found that sports can help reduce stress and anxiety by as much as 72%. As an added bonus, it may even help you live longer! Be sure to check out our guide on How Sports Helps Youth Mental Health.
Sport builds character
Playing sports can build self-esteem, boost confidence and encourage leadership skills. When players work together as a team to achieve common goals, they're building values of trust, loyalty and respect. These are also key components of well-being. Participating in sports can help you feel good about yourself because you're setting and achieving personal goals – whether it's making an A on your math test or making that final tackle at football practice. As a result, people who participate in sports report feeling more confident about their ability to succeed than those who don't get involved with athletics.
Sport improves teamwork skills
Being a part of a team requires that you learn to coordinate with other individuals in order to get what you want. This kind of cooperation is extremely useful in all aspects of life, particularly when it comes to dealing with bosses, coworkers and clients. In fact, one study showed that women who were involved in sports or athletic activities had fewer instances of depression than women who weren’t involved in these types of activities (source). Being on a team forces people to communicate their needs and desires clearly; all too often, people think they are on the same page only to find out later that they have no idea what each other are trying to do.
Sport helps with anxiety and depression
Athletes and people who play sports tend to have lower rates of anxiety and depression than non-athletes. A study found that, among women ages 20 to 45 years old, those who participated in team sports had lower rates of severe depression than non-participants. (Participation in individual sports was not associated with a reduction in severe depression.) Another study found that athletes were three times less likely to develop clinical anxiety than people who did not participate in sports.
Sport improves self-esteem
As if higher self-esteem isn’t enough of a bonus, recent studies have shown that regular exercise can also help those suffering from depression and anxiety. By making you more physically fit, sports improve your physical health as well.
Sport reduces stress
The very nature of sport helps improve your mental health by reducing stress levels. While many people believe that exercise makes you more stressed, recent studies show that moderate to intense exercise reduces stress levels and can help improve your overall mental health. Exercise also helps control your weight, which has been linked to depression and anxiety disorders. So be sure to incorporate some kind of physical activity into your weekly routine.
Exercise is a better option than medication
Exercising has many benefits, not only for your body but also for your mind. This is because, according to Medical News Today, regular exercise leads to an improvement in mental health. A study by researchers at Indiana University revealed that physical activity triggers a release of certain neurotransmitters within the brain and may have an impact on mood-regulating neurotransmitters, making one feel less anxious and depressed. Moreover, exercising boosts serotonin levels and reduces cortisol levels in both men and women.
Sports are one of many activities that can positively impact a person’s mental health. They provide an opportunity to lose yourself in something other than a screen, to participate with others who enjoy what you do, and to master new skills. With so many benefits, it is not surprising that sports remain one of America’s most popular pastimes.