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Athletic Achievement: 5 Mental Benefits of Playing Sports

Posted on December 17, 2017 by Dixie Somers

Athletic Achievement - 5 Mental Benefits of Playing SportsWhile most people adopt a fitness routine to help shed fat and build lean muscle, the benefits extend well beyond the physical. Cognitive processes may be ephemeral, but the brain is ultimately physical and therefore stands to benefit from a healthy body built through playing sports. The next time you’re working out, keep these mental benefits in mind as further motivation for staying fit.

Improved Mood

If you suffer from chronic stress or depression, participating in sports is a natural way to help combat these negative emotions. Team sports are particularly effective, since their group nature can help you to build the camaraderie and support network needed for a healthy mind. The mere act of physical movement itself is also a powerful mood booster. Exercise relieves the muscle tension, poor posture, and other physical symptoms of stress, while also releasing endorphins, a mood-improving hormone vital for healthy brain function.

Improved Self-Esteem

Having an unhealthy body invariably leads to an unhealthy self-perception. If you regularly play sports, you’ll naturally improve your physique over time, which in turn promotes self-esteem and sense of self-worth. Beyond this is a sport’s unique ability to provide a sense of achievement. Mastering any sport takes significant effort, and by doing so you’ll prove to yourself your ability to overcome challenges and improve as a person. Instilling a sense of progress in your life is essential for your self-esteem and sports give you a fun, low-pressure, and leisurely way of doing just that.

Improved Leadership Skills

While not everyone is born a natural leader, leadership is a skill like any other and can therefore be learned through diligent practice. Given their team nature and focus on strategy, sports are an excellent proving ground for those hoping to develop leadership skills useful in other aspects of their lives. On average, high school students who participate in sports and athletics tend to develop leadership skills that lead to better career opportunities after graduation. While you may be an adult, those skills are just as valuable now and can still be obtained through participation in a team sport later in life.

Better Sleep

Just like diet and exercise, a good night’s sleep is essential for your overall mental health and outlook. Regular physical activity through sports will not only help you to sleep deeper, but also can help you fall asleep faster. Given sleep deprivation and its connection to depression, stress, cognitive function, and even brain development, it’s clear that a restful night’s sleep is vital for keeping your mind sharp.

Healthy Habits

There are few things more challenging for the mind than coping with addiction. While the physical symptoms are enough of a hurdle, mental and emotional dependencies are often more severe. That said, regular participation in sports, especially when coupled with other sobriety measures like Sober Link, can dramatically improve the chances that your recovery effort is successful. The endorphins released by regular exercise can help the body to cope with the physical symptoms of withdrawal as well as the stress, anxiety, and depression that comes with making a major life change. Likewise, team sports can act as a social outlet and a way to build a support and accountability network that is essential to achieving true recovery from addiction.

Mind and Body

Whether it’s improved mood, clearer thinking thanks to better sleep, or an extra tool in the fight against addiction, the mental advantages of regular sports participation are plentiful. While pushing your body to peak performance is worthwhile, improving your mind can be just as impactful. Use these mental benefits as extra motivation the next time you take to the field.

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