Sports Psychology 101: 5 Ways Sports
Enhance Your Mind and Body
By David Barnes
What people more often fail to understand is that sports are more than just a physical body in action. When you are involved in a sport, you activate not only your body but also your mind. The mind and body work hand in hand in achieving the best results. The physical performance of a person depends on their mental state, and vice versa. Nevertheless, regular practicing of sports generates multi-dimensional benefits for every aspect of your overall wellbeing.
Improves Mental Health
What has become common knowledge, and also backed up by research, is that exercising is highly beneficial for mental health and functioning. A study conducted on a relationship between mental health and exercise shows that doing sports can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression if practiced moderately and correctly. This may not be only due to the great endorphin rush per se, but the bare feeling of happiness and excitement that follows intense and successful exercise. Sports bring a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction of achieving both score and physical goals later on in the future.
Furthermore, science links physical fitness to brain vitality – yes, this means doing sports can make you smarter, no matter your age. If played regularly and appropriately, sports can improve cognitive functions throughout the lifespan, by influencing brain functions such as proprioception (the awareness of what's happening in one's own body), selective visual attention, executive service and inhibitory control (screening out irrelevant noise and focusing on what's significant).
Helps in Creating Relationships
The social aspect of playing sports is also essential for building self-esteem, confidence, and self-worth. Creating and maintaining meaningful relationships is a big part of playing team sports, like baseball, football, basketball, hockey, volleyball and more. Depending on someone and being relevant to others creates a sense of acceptance and belonging to a community. If played safely and fair, team sports can be a fantastic way of bonding and getting closer to people you may not have the opportunity to truly meet in other circumstances, like your colleagues or acquaintances.
An essential aspect of playing team sports is safety and comfort since group sports can sometimes get rough and dangerous. There are websites like Bat Critic and others which provide useful insight into what’s needed and required in terms of proper sports gear and equipment.
Enhances Physical Health
Regular exercise does wonder for your cardiovascular and respiratory system. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) exercises, common in group sports like hockey or rugby, improve athletic capacity, condition, and endurance, since they consist of alternating periods of intense workout and short recovery, which increases blood pumping, deepens breathing and later helps in weight loss and fat reduction.
On the other hand, moderate-intensity physical activity like golf, or jogging is equally essential, since it boosts the metabolism, decreases the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, and is beneficial for people who are not particularly athletic or have much sports skill. This means that young children and older people can benefit from exercising regularly, without quickly getting exhausted, or worse, injuring themselves.
Better Sleep and Relaxation
Sports are a great activity that can make you spend some quality time outside, in the fresh air, which is said to promote a good night's sleep. What's more, getting involved in game strategy, enhancing body coordination and focus is an excellent way of training your brain, while at the same time putting some physical effort into achieving something. This is amazing for letting off steam, releasing all of the negative energy, tension and restlessness, which leaves the mind calm, unburdened and clear of any built up toxicity.
A perfect activity for achieving mindfulness and mental and emotional presence is yoga. Yogis master tranquility, body and mind agility, and flexibility, while learning how to relax and concentrate in most hectic and rushing situations in life.
Self-Love and Awareness
Taking care of yourself means giving your body what's essential for its proper functioning, and one aspect of it is regular exercising and fitness. Responding to your body's natural needs leads to creating a healthy, loving relationship with yourself. A positive body image is vital for gaining self-confidence and motivation to conquer the day, and also being able to give love to others. Only when we've learned how to love ourselves truly will we be able to love others.
However, if we approach sports with fear and anxiety, it can turn into a nightmare. A common mistake people make when taking up physical activity is using self-hatred as a primary motivation. “I hate my body, I hate feeling exhausted, I hate how I look ” are words we so generously use when motivating ourselves to change. It works in the beginning, but for long term success, you need to perceive exercising as a lifelong process, not a short term goal for getting rid of discomfort. When overcoming the initial struggles, one can experience the true beauty of self-care, which is the first step towards self-love and respect.
Understanding that fitness is a gift, not a punishment and that making exercise enjoyable and fun is not that hard, can be life-changing. What is needed is a little bit of discipline, perseverance, and commitment. Sports in that sense are great for incorporating physical activity into your everyday experience and who knows, it may become a profession, a joyful hobby at least, but in any case, it will bring long term happiness, health and improve your lifestyle significantly.
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