The Link Between Playing Sports and Your Mental Health – By Naomi Cook

680 The Fan, Atlanta – Have you recently felt unhappy and in a bad mood? Or do you have too many worries and anxieties? While getting professional help from a mental health expert is likely the best idea, you can also try sports and exercise as a way to boost your mental health. In fact, sports can improve brain health by stimulating the right chemicals like serotonin and endorphins.

Exercise and playing sports, as well as using CBD for mental health, have all been shown to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. One study even found that exercise could be as effective as antidepressant medication treatment. 

Want to learn more about the link between sports and your mental health? Then keep reading the information below! 

Playing Sports Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Researchers have found that participating in sports and aerobic exercise can stabilize your mood and produce anti-anxiety reactions, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America. Psychologists have found that exercise and playing sports can provide both stress relief and reduce anxiety.

Research shows that even a brisk walk can alleviate stress and anxiety for several hours. As such, spending an hour or two playing hockey, basketball, or softball is likely to boost your mental health for the rest of the day.

One study even found that people who participate in regular and vigorous physical activity, such as through sports, are 25 percent less likely to end up with an anxiety disorder over the following five years.

Sports and Exercise Alleviate Depression

Sports can play a role in treating depression. Researchers have discovered that even small amounts of exercise, such as through playing sports, can help alleviate depression. Physical activity can reduce the typical symptoms of depression and even lower the chance of relapse.

Research combining several studies outlines that sports and exercise have somewhat of an effect on treating depression. As compared to people who did not participate in sports or any other treatment, amateur athletes were found to have fewer depressive symptoms. Essentially, those suffering from mild depression can see relief from exercise and playing sports.

There are still some questions that scientists have regarding sports and depression, such as:

  • Are sports more effective at treating depression when participating in groups or individually?
  • Is there a difference in using sports to treat mild, moderate, or severe depression?
  • How long will someone’s mood remain stable after playing sports?

We still don’t have enough evidence to confidently claim that sports can fully treat depression. We can take one of the biggest sports stories currently in the spotlight involving the now Brooklyn Nets NBA player, Ben Simmons, as an example. Simmons claimed that his mental health decreased due to the fining, targeting, and negative publicity that he encountered while playing for the 76ers. 

While his claim has come under scrutiny from media and the public alike for seeming falsified to force a trade, we can’t deny that athletes face an immense amount of pressure in the spotlight that can severely affect their mental health. 

Still, the benefits of playing sports and staying active can create a positive lifestyle that benefits most people facing mental health issues.    

Physical Activity Improves Sleep

Playing sports and participating in other types of physical exercise can improve your quality of sleep. In particular, moderate or vigorous physical activity can help reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and the amount of time someone stays awake at night. 

Playing sports will also make you more alert during the day and reduce daytime drowsiness. 

Adequate sleep can play a significant role in your overall mood and mental health. For instance, one study found subjects who only slept for 4.5 hours per night for a week were more irritable, sad, and stressed. Once the subjects began sleeping for a whole night again, their moods improved.

Team Sports Prevent Substance Abuse and Addiction

Participating in team sports, especially during the teenage years, can help stem the tide of substance abuse and addiction. Playing sports keeps teenagers and young adults busy and involved with other endeavors instead of at risk of substance abuse.

Playing team sports can also decrease the risk of other reckless behaviors. For instance, a study looking at Norwegian teenagers uncovered that athletes who took part in team sports had a lower risk of smoking cigarettes and taking cannabis during their adult years.

In Korea, where Internet and video game addictions abound, researchers suggested using team sports as a way to reduce internet addiction among teenagers.

Furthermore, physical activity will help you sleep better, and quality sleep can significantly improve your mood. So if you want more pep in your step, go out and play a game of baseball, soccer, or football with your friends. 

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