It’s no secret that sports provide a lot of benefits to people. Ask any person off the street, and they would probably say something generic like improved health and fitness. But we could probably do a better job of educating people about the specific benefits one can gain from playing sports. There’s a vast body of scientific evidence that proves the health benefits of physical activity, but little has trickled down to the general public.
The health benefits of sports aren’t limited to the person’s body. It can also have transformative effects on mental and emotional health and psychosocial development. According to a Swedish health study, people who play sports are less likely to consume alcohol and are more active in later life, which also brings ripple effects in terms of knowledge of fitness and nutrition. The same study recommends physical activity as one of the core components of future public health policy.
Whether you’re young or old, it’s never too late to put on your best running shoes and hit the tracks. If you’re suffering from mental or chronic conditions, sports can also help alleviate some of the symptoms. Here are a few ways physical activity can improve your wellness and transform your life.
Stronger cardiovascular performance
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. Cardiovascular conditions place people under immense physical and financial strain and stretch our healthcare system to the limit. However, dozens of studies have shown that physical activity and participation in sports can improve cardiovascular performance and cut mortality rates from heart disease.
A study from the University of Sydney showed that people who engaged in physical activity were less likely to die of cardiovascular disease. The study compared people who swam, engaged in aerobic exercises, and played racket sports. Results showed an up to 56 percent reduction in mortality rates.
Improved peace of mind
Over three-quarters of Americans say that stress or anxiety has affected their lives in some way.
If left alone, stress can seriously affect your physical and mental health. You can suffer from more headaches, low libido, lack of focus, and lethargy. Some doctors have turned to sports and physical activity to supplement their treatment programs.
Whenever you engage in physical activity, your body undergoes neurochemical changes that affect your behavior and relieves stress. For instance, aerobic exercises help promote endorphins, which elevate your mood and make you feel better about yourself. At the same time, hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are reduced. Regular exercise can help mitigate the effects of stress and anxiety and improve your general well-being.
Whether you prefer to go it alone or play in pairs or teams, sports have long been used as an avenue for socialization. For instance, your local gym or sports club will probably include people from diverse backgrounds. You might not have much in common with the person you’re playing, but your love for the sport unites you. You can easily find new people by going to a new gym or club, which can come in handy if socialization isn’t your strongest suit.
Sports aren’t just for fitness and enjoyment as well. By expanding your network, you can meet or gain access to people by opening yourself up to social connections. If you need a wedding planner or a lawyer, someone in your club can probably connect you with the right people. Finding friends can also be problematic as an adult, and engaging in sports can help you in that area.
Better sleep quality
Most studies that examined the relationship between sports and sleep focused on the impact of sleep deprivation on performance, but there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that engaging in physical activity can improve sleep quality. The National Sleep Foundation claims that sports and exercise have helped people with insomnia to get better and longer sleep, and although further studies are required, there is great promise for those who suffer from low sleep quality.
Whether you suffer from a heart condition or insomnia or find it difficult to relax or make friends, engaging in sports and physical activity can give you the positive results you need. Don’t forget to consult a primary care provider first to check if your body can withstand the rigors of sports. They can recommend activities for your health and skill level.