Mental health is "a state of cognitive, behavioural, and emotional well-being i.e., how you think, behave, and feel”. A person’s mental health is closely related to their physical health and surrounding environment. This explains why sports play an indispensable role in improving one's mental health. It aids in overcoming stress, depression, and anxiety while improving the quality of sleep and lifestyle. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that children and young people aged five to 17 participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day. Research suggests that the prevalence of mental health disorders may be lower in the athletic population when compared to the general population of young people. As the proverb goes, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, is true enough!
A few benefits of sports on mental health are below:
1. Confidence And Energy
A daily exercise or sports activity helps build confidence and keeps children active and energised by fostering a sense of self-worth and helps them in facing daily challenges, minimising any stress or anxiety. It releases feel-good endorphins, natural brain chemicals that enhance your sense of well-being.
Also read: How To Set Healthy Boundaries With Your Kids
2. High Concentration And Focus
It’s been observed that those who regularly participate in sports and physical activities have a better focus on learning, presence of mind, enjoy challenges more and are more creative with solutions. This is because it aids in blood flow to the brain.
3. Elevate Mood
Sports help in improving mood instantly as the brain releases neurochemicals like serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins and norepinephrine which uplift mood and prevent stress or anxiety. A study showed that regular running or walking for 15 minutes can prevent the risk of depression while also relieving its symptoms.
4. Regulating Emotions
Children learn more about emotions from sports. From feelings of anger, frustration, stress, and guilt to cheerfulness, they learn to regulate and manage these emotions better and learn to not let their emotions dictate their actions.
5. Character Building
Being exposed to a sporting environment helps character building in children as it involves all-round skills including responsibility, discipline, fairness and honesty, compassion, respect etc. which are all crucial ingredients of character building.
6. Building Resilience
In sports, children learn to overcome failures, accept adversity and learn ways to handle and cope with it adequately. It also helps them learn persistence, patience and positivity in tough times.
7. Social Relationships
Sports imbibes the ability to function effectively in groups and teams, enable healthy interactions and communication with each other and most importantly teach team effort and delegation of responsibilities. They learn to collaborate, tolerate and lead teammates, resolve differences amicably, have peer influence and attitudes, healthy habits and be a team player.
Also read: Gym Essentials: From Basics To Sports Necessities
8. Improved Quality Of Sleep
Any moderate to intense physical activity/sport, reduces the sleep onset, i.e. the time you stay awake during the night. A good night’s rest is most important for the young minds to develop at its fullest potential.
9. Makes Studying Interesting
A student who manages school and sports is generally more enthusiastic and doesn’t feel burned out by the pressures. It teaches students time management skills and a healthy lifestyle.