Health Benefits Associated With Playing A Sport

The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Research continues to show the importance of getting regular physical activity to promote long-term health. While many people take this to mean running sprints in the gym every morning or swimming laps in the pool every night after work, the reality is that fitness can be whatever you make of it. Many people choose to play sports to keep their bodies active and their minds engaged while also having lots of fun in the process. Sports like basketball, lacrosse, volleyball, and so on can bring numerous physical and mental health benefits to your life, many of which we’ll explore in this article. 

Health Benefits Of Sports

Sports can have benefits for both your body and mind, allowing you to become a stronger, healthier version of yourself. Some of these potential benefits include: 

  • Personal growth: Sports can teach you important life lessons and allow you to develop traits like leadership, self-discipline, resilience, and teamwork. These qualities can impact you for life, helping you reach your goals and find success in multiple areas of life. Some athletes may even choose to work with a sports psychologist who can enhance their personal growth by teaching them how to improve their focus, manage their emotions on the court, and deal with burnout, among other skills.
  • Stronger social ties: Most sports involve being part of a team, which necessitates working with and alongside other people in order to be successful. Teammates get the chance to bond with one another and create strong friendships that can last for a lifetime. Studies have shown that having close friends can prevent loneliness and isolation and even help you live longer
  • Reduced risk of mental disorders: You may be able to reduce your risk of mental health disorders like depression and anxiety by participating in sports, as they often contribute to lower stress levels, happier moods, less loneliness, and higher self-esteem. 
  • Faster metabolism: Sports often contribute to a faster metabolism, as the body learns how to burn calories faster and use energy efficiently. Whether you’re lifting weights or participating in a competition, engaging in sports can help stimulate your body both during and after these activities, allowing you to benefit all through the day. 
  • Lower risk of disease: Sports provide regular physical activity, which has been shown to help lower the risk of developing health conditions like heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, and type 2 diabetes. When you engage in sports, your heart is strengthened and your circulation improves, which raises the amount of oxygen in your body. 

Enhanced emotional regulation: It can be crucial for athletes to master emotional regulation, as this is what can help them handle sports-related stress common during games and competitions. When obstacles make it difficult to win or a referee makes an unfair call, it can be hard not to get upset or angry. However, regular exposure to these incidents can teach you how to persevere and adapt in the face of these challenges. Learning how to stay calm and composed on the court can help cope with problems in your everyday life with strength and level-headedness. 

  • Increased focus: Sports demand that you stay focused and engaged at all times, as there could be a ball headed your way or another runner on your tail at any moment. Not paying attention could cause your team to lose a game or even lead to an injury. Games and other competitions that allow you to showcase your skills can also be highly stressful, especially when you’re neck in neck with an opponent or have to make last-minute decisions. Sports can help teach you how to stay focused even when the pressure is high, and this skill often carries over into other aspects of your life. 

Sports can have a significantly positive impact on your life, regardless of the one you choose to play. Not only can they improve your immediate health, but they can also set you up for long-term success by reducing your risk of physical and mental health conditions. Whether you play sports for fun, competitively, or professionally, you’ve chosen an activity that can help you prioritize fitness while allowing you to achieve personal growth and life satisfaction.

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