What are the benefits of sports for mental health?

We know that playing sports can keep us fit and healthy. But, here’s how it can positively impact your mental health too.

So many of us are ardent fans of physical sports, be it playing or watching it. While the natural association between physical sports and fitness is obvious, sports also tend to provide a wide variety of mental health benefits.

As an activity, sports impart lessons of commitment to goals, reduce stress, inspire leadership skills, promote respect for your peers, and teach how to manage failure. From hockey, cricket, to football, physical sports can help its participants to improve social competence and confidence levels.

A study by the Journal of Adolescent Health revealed that people who play team sports have less stress and better mental health as young adults. The said study found that playing sports results in developing a heightened emphasis on setting and achieving group goals and develops a sense of connection that provides an opportunity for learning adaptive coping strategies, which are beneficial for long-term mental health.

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Apart from physical health benefits, sports can also have mental health benefits. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Here’s how physical sports can positively impact your mental health

Playing sports provides subtle yet high impact mental health benefits:

Boosts your mood

Indulging in physical activity triggers the release of chemicals called endorphins and serotonin. This chemical makes you feel happy and reduces stress. This in turn reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as the mood uplifter neurotransmitter, called norepinephrine, gets stimulated. So, the next time you are playing your favorite sport, and wonder why you are feeling relaxed, you now know that serotonin and endorphins are kicking in to boost your mood.

Self-esteem and confidence

Sports require setting up targets, coordinating with team members, and working towards accomplishing those goals. This process is rewarding, as it empowers the players to perform well, and have fun at the same time. This helps boost confidence levels and self-esteem, as feelings of self-worth increase with every game, or improvement in skills.

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You can boost your confidence with sports! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Helps increase focus levels

It’s not all fun and physical fitness when it comes to sports. Physical sports require high reaction times, and the ability to foresee certain situations during a play. This means that cognitive skills such as critical thinking, and the ability to concentrate, are regularly exercised and sharpened while playing sports.

Counteracts depressive and anxiety symptoms

Exercising and playing physical sports can play the role of natural antidepressants. This happens due to the release of endorphins, which plunges the levels of cortisol, thereby reducing stress and anxiety. As per a study published by a journal Psychiatria Danubina, continuous exercise is linked to preventing relapse into depression and is an effective way to manage mild depressive and anxiety episodes.

So ladies, lace-up, and get ready to improve your mood, fitness levels, and mental health, by playing your favorite sport!

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