The Mental And Physical Health Benefits Of Playing Sports
We all know that physical exercise is very important to both our mental and physical well being. What more fun way to get your exercise than through sports?
If you are familiar with our current American culture, you know that obesity and cardiovascular problems are on the rise and have been for some time now.
The number one way to prevent and reverse many health problems is to play sports often.
Let’s face that fact that not all physical exercise is created equal. Someone competing in a triathlon is going to get substantially more exercise (and be substantially more fit) than your average golfer down at your country club.
However, the good news is that you don’t need to be a world-class athlete to get yourself in the best shape of your life. All you have to do is pick a sport that you really enjoy and do it multiple time throughout the week. This could be hockey, soccer, swimming, anything!
The important thing to highlight here is that you are getting adequate exercise in your life which will have a positive effect on both your physical and mental health.
Physical Health Benefits.
1. You will strengthen your cardiovascular system
The reason why our cardiovascular system begins to fail as we age, besides genetic factors, is because we don’t exercise it enough. Remember, the heart is a muscle just like any other part of the body. When you perform an anaerobic sport like hockey or soccer, you are making it work harder than it normally is.
By doing this, it will be easy for your cardiovascular system to function when your body is operating normally. One other benefit to your cardiovascular system is that playing sports will help keep your veins and arteries clear.
When you don’t exercise enough, plaque begins to build up which can cause serious health problems. This is due to the excess cholesterol and fat in the bloodstream.
All in all, very active sports keep the walls of the veins and arteries flexible and healthy. All of this dramatically lowers your chance of getting heart disease, having a stroke or a heart attack.
2. Keeps the respiratory system healthy
Just as sports help maintain healthy function of the heart, they also help with keeping the lungs and overall respiratory system healthy as well. The more anaerobic your sport is, the more lung capacity you will need to sustain it.
Due to this, more oxygen is brought into the body while carbon dioxide and other gases are emitted. This increased oxygen intake can really add up and help the brain maintain function as you age.
3. Controls weight
As I have previously highlighted, obesity is a big epidemic in America today. Social media and other things have caused us to sink into an unhealthy, inactive lifestyle and that’s unacceptable considering what we know about sedentary lifestyles.
Sedentary people binge eat because they have nothing better to do, intaking more calories than normal. If they played an active sport, the sport would burn a good amount of these excess calories which would keep weight in check.
Even better, if you are in a sport and are in a caloric deficit, you will actually lose weight and will probably look even better. Sports not only control your weight but they also dramatically reduce the chance of you developing type ii diabetes.
4. Better energy and emotional well being
Have you ever wondered why some people live very inactive lives but are tired all the time? This seems pretty counterintuitive when you think of it. Wouldn’t being inactive save you a lot of energy? Well, look at it this way.
Humans were designed to move around throughout the day. If you are not getting up and moving, you are not engaging your nervous system which is why you have poor energy all the time.
Ever go on a 15-minute bike ride or a 30-minute jog and feel dramatically better? This is what I’m talking about.
It’s even better when you do it with friends because now you get both the social and physiological benefits of exercising and playing sports. This is because feel-good endorphins are released when you perform physical activity.
Mental health benefits
1. Improves mood
Like I said before, playing sports releases feel-good endorphins in your brain. Not only do they make you feel happier but they also make you feel more relaxed.
The neurotransmitter serotonin is also released during physical exercise which also makes you feel really good. In the end, this positive feeling is probably the reason why people play sports so much.
2. Improves concentration
As you can imagine, many sports involve a lot of chemistry and teamwork. In other words, there is a strategy for a lot of them.
Playing sports has been shown to improve concentration and maintain it as you age. Not only do you use critical thinking when you are engaged in sports but you are also learning and making judgments about the game. All of these things keep the mind healthy.
Also, sports like weight training and Crossfit can be very beneficial because of the mental barrier that you have to push yourself through to get through that workout.
Overall, you should engage in sports for at least 30 minutes a day for three to five days a week.
3. Reduces depression and stress
One of the biggest reasons why people exercise is to get rid of the daily stressors in their life. Whereas alcohol and drug consumption would be a negative way to handle stress, engaging in sports would probably be the most constructive way I could think of.
Exercise reduces the stress hormones in the body and the endorphins keep any sort of mental depression at a low. Although a lot of research isn’t completely sure about the correlation between depression and sports, we know sports really help it in that regard.
4. Better sleep
The power of sleep is very underestimated in American culture. Sleep deprivation is a very big epidemic in the American way of living and it needs to be addressed.
The good news is that playing sports positively effects the quality of sleep you get.
Playing sports not only makes you fall asleep faster but you also get a deeper sleep, giving your body chances to rebuild itself and grow stronger because of the exercise.
In the end, a night of quality sleep will keep your energy levels high the next day and will allow you to be more productive overall.
5. Confidence boost
In a world full of social media, it can be kind of depressing to see what others are posting. The good news is that sports can really make you feel good about yourself. Not only are you working with others towards a common goal but you are also growing and building yourself up in the process.
By playing sports often, it will give you the opportunity to meet new people and have more fun. As your skills develop in the sport you are in, so will your body image.
You will start feeling better about the person you are and the person you are becoming. And because many sports require such an exertion of energy, it will make aerobic tasks off the field seem relatively easy.
6. Builds leadership and other quality traits
Studies done in high schools throughout America have shown that there is a positive correlation between sports participation and leadership traits. This is due to the team mindset that I spoke on earlier. You are all one working together to get to a common goal.
You train, struggle, and win together which makes you value the art of the sport. When you become winners and leaders on the field, it very often carries over to off the field as well.
7. Builds social skills
One of the biggest reasons why parents put their kids in a sport is to build social skills. It requires young children to communicate with one another to try and come up with a way to win the game.
Plus, putting them in sports early one will build healthy habits that will most likely carry on to their adulthood.
Doing this for your kids will lead to better academic success, scholastic opportunities, and better performance once they graduate and enter the real world.
All in all, it is pretty clear how sports and physical activity, in general, can really affect mental and physical health in a positive way. Not only do you slow down the aging of the mind and the deterioration of your intelligence but you also keep your overall health in check as well.
Sports is a great way to spend your time outside of work and school as this article has highlighted. If you don’t make your health a priority now, negative things will happen to your health in the future.
In the end, being involved in a sport is a great way to go out and have fun while hanging around awesome people.
The Diet Fitness King Team is a team of 6 people lead by the founder Greg Davis. We have all different levels of experiences and credentials in the health field and our goal is to provide people the highest quality information available. Everything we put out is well researched and we have a lot of passion and pride behind this! Please let us know if you find any incorrect information on our website or feel free to contact us with feedback in general.