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Sports and Mental Health
Speaking of mental health, sports can have a major impact on your quality of life. Physical activity is known to have significant benefits for mental health. So, if you’re trying to figure out how to improve mental health, you need to find a way to reap those benefits.
For some people, dance, hiking, and yoga are good options. In addition, for many teens, high school sports can be an enjoyable way to get moving. Teen baseball, basketball, intramural sports, and youth track clubs are all great options for adolescents.
That said, let’s find out how sports participation can help with improving mental health.
Improves Your Mood
Getting involved in sports or any type of physical activity can give you a burst of relaxation and happiness. Whether you’re playing sports, taking a brisk walk, or working out at the gym, physical activity triggers the brain chemicals which make you feel more relaxed and happier. Team sports provide a chance to unwind and engage in a challenge that’s satisfying and improves your fitness. They also give social benefits by enabling you to connect with your teammates in a recreational setting.
Improves Your Concentration
Regular physical exercise can help keep your mental skills sharp as you age. This includes thinking, learning, and using great judgment. According to research, doing a mix of muscle-strengthening and aerobic activities is especially helpful. Participating in this type of exercise 3-5 times a week for at least 30 minutes can provide such mental health benefits.
Reduces Stress and Depression
When you’re physically active, your mind stays distracted from daily stressors. This helps you avoid getting stuck with negative thoughts. Exercise can reduce the levels of stress hormones in one’s body and stimulates the production of endorphins simultaneously. These are natural mood lifters which can keep stress and anxiety at bay. Endorphins can leave you feeling more optimistic and relaxed after a hard workout. According to experts, more quality research is required in order to determine the relationship between sports and anxiety.
Helps You Maintain a Healthy Weight
CDC — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says sports participation is a healthy way to maintain your weight. Individual sports like running, weightlifting, and cycling, are all effective ways to burn calories and build muscle. If you can stay within a recommended weight range, it will reduce the likelihood of developing high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension.
Improves Sleep Habits
Sports can also improve the quality of sleep by helping you fall asleep quicker and deepening your sleep. When you sleep better, it automatically improves your mental outlook the next morning. It also improves your mood and productivity. However, avoid engaging in sports too late in the day as evening practices within hours of bedtime can leave you too energized to sleep.
Boosts Your Self-Confidence
The regular activity that comes with playing different sports is known for boosting confidence and improving self-esteem. As your strength, stamina, and skills increase through sports, your self-image improves too. With the renewed energy that comes from physical activity, you’re more likely to succeed in activities off the playing field as well as on it.
Team sports like baseball, basketball, and soccer are breeding grounds for leadership qualities. A few studies done in high schools have shown a correlation between sports participation and leadership traits. Sports provide the opportunity to try, train, win, or lose together. As a result, people engaged in sports are naturally more willing to adopt a “team mindset” in social situations and in the workplace. This mindset leads to strong leadership traits over time.
Benefits for Children
Sports can also benefit children in similar ways as they benefit adults. The difference here is that when children start playing sports at an early age, they’re more inclined to stay active as they grow older. Participating in team sports can also enhance academic performance.
Things to Keep in Mind
Some popular team sports like American football and ice hockey can result in injuries — contusions, sprains, and broken limbs. Most sports injuries result in full recovery if there’s proper medical attention. But, some injuries — brain trauma and concussion — can cause lifelong damage to the athlete. The CDC has specific guidelines regarding concussions related to sports.
Exercise-induced asthma — another condition reported by athletes. If you’re practicing a sport multiple times a week and start to develop asthma symptoms, you need to pay attention to that. Consider asking your doctor or trainer about breathing exercises and how to practice them. They can help you avoid developing chronic asthma.
The advantages of participating in sports are many — from the benefits they provide to young children, to the mental health and happiness, and the endorphins they trigger. It’s important for everyone to find a sport and get involved in, no question there. Just pick one and get yourself moving!
Also, speak to your doctor before starting any sports activity. Make sure your heart is healthy enough for demanding exercise. If you’re worried about getting injured, you can start with a low-impact sport like swimming. No matter what you do, sports should always be a part of your life.