How playing sports benefits your body … and your brain – Leah Lagos and Jaspal Ricky Singh

The victory of the underdog over
the favored team. The last minute penalty shot
that wins the tournament. The high-energy training montages. Many people love to glorify victory
on the playing field, cheer for favorite teams, and play sports. But here’s a question:
Should we be so obsessed with sports? Is playing sports actually as good for us
as we make it out to be, or just a fun and entertaining pastime? What does science have to say? First of all, it’s well accepted that
exercise is good for our bodies and minds, and that’s definitely true. Exercising, especially when we’re young,
has all sorts of health benefits, like strengthening our bones, clearing out bad cholesterol
from our arteries, and decreasing the risk of stroke,
high blood pressure, and diabetes. Our brains also release a number
of chemicals when we workout, including endorphins. These natural hormones, which control pain and pleasure responses
in the cental nervous system, can lead to feelings of euphoria,
or, what’s often called, a runner’s high. Increased endorphins and consistent
physical activity in general can sharpen your focus
and improve your mood and memory. So does that mean we get just as much
benefit going to the gym five days a week as we would joining a team and competing? Well, here’s where it gets interesting: because it turns out that if you can find
a sport and a team you like, studies show that there are all sorts
of benefits that go beyond the physical
and mental benefits of exercise alone. Some of the most significant
are psychological benefits, both in the short and long term. Some of those come from the communal
experience of being on a team, for instance, learning to trust
and depend on others, to accept help, to give help, and to work together towards
a common goal. In addition, commitment to a team
and doing something fun can also make it easier to establish
a regular habit of exercise. School sport participation
has also been shown to reduce the risk of suffering
from depression for up to four years. Meanwhile, your self-esteem and confidence
can get a big boost. There are a few reasons for that. One is found in training. Just by working and working at skills, especially with a good coach, you reinforce a growth mindset
within yourself. That’s when you say, “Even if I can’t
do something today, I can improve myself through practice
and achieve it eventually.” That mindset is useful
in all walks of life. And then there’s learning through failure, one of the most transformative,
long-term benefits of playing sports. The experience of coming to terms
with defeat can build the resilience and self-awareness necessary
to manage academic, social, and physical hurdles. So even if your team isn’t winning
all the time, or at all, there’s a real benefit to your experience. Now, not everyone will enjoy every sport. Perhaps one team is too competitive, or not competitive enough. It can also take time to find
a sport that plays to your strengths. That’s completely okay. But if you spend some time looking, you’ll be able to find a sport
that fits your individual needs, and if you do, there are so many benefits. You’ll be a part of
a supportive community, you’ll be building your confidence, you’ll be exercising your body, and you’ll be nurturing your mind, not to mention having fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *