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Improving Mental and Emotional Health with Sports

Regular and moderate exercise brings numerous physical and psychological health benefits. Maintaining an active lifestyle helps to prevent, develop and restore health, as well as to establish mental well-being and improve our quality of life.

doing tai chi in a fielddoing tai chi can relieve anxiety

Physical activity is a very effective additional means of preventing and treating psychological imbalances. In general, we can say that it improves a person's independence, memory, and mental alertness, and promotes feelings such as optimism or euphoria, as well as increasing self-esteem.

All of these benefits to our mental health make sports a necessary and beneficial activity at any age, and especially for young people.

The Main 13 Advantages of Sports

1. Releases happiness hormones

Endorphins released by our brain during and after exercise induce a state of greater happiness and emotional well-being. It is highly recommended in cases of depression or anxiety because it helps reduce symptoms of sadness, induces a sense of relaxation, and has a positive effect on a person's quality of life.

It does not matter if you run, swim, or play any kind of sport. It is important to combat sedentary lifestyles that can lead to coronary or neurovascular disease. However, to experience the powerful benefits of exercise, you must be consistent and exercise at least 3 times a week.

2.  Relieves and reduces stress

Any physical activity is a healthy and effective way to relax after work or studying. Writing essays and having exams at the same time can be extremely stressful. In addition, exercising increases the production of norepinephrine, whose function is to inhibit our brain's response to stressful situations. In this sense, the stress reaction is balanced by a sense of calm and well-being.

3. Improves social relationships

Doing any kind of exercise in the company is a way to encourage and motivate each other. This is another thing you can share with friends that will motivate you to continue this good practice for your health.

If the gym is your haven for exercise, these centers have numerous social events for their users. In addition, the classes offered at most of them also allow you to meet new people with similar health interests.

Improved emotional well-being and self-esteem lead to better management of social relationships. When we feel good about ourselves, we project feelings of admiration on those around us, and we are more capable of social interaction and engagement.

4. Boosts self-esteem

One of the reasons many people start exercising is because of the physical changes that occur through consistency. A clearer body shape contributes to better self-perception and, therefore, higher self-esteem. The perception of self gradually changes, and along with the improvement in mental state, the level of self-esteem inevitably increases as self-confidence grows.

5. Relieves anxiety

The effects of sports on brain chemistry can be seen both during and after exercise. In the case of anxiety, as the scientific literature shows, sports help alleviate some of the most unpleasant symptoms.

Swimming is a very physically fulfilling sport that allows us to release tension and relax at the same time. It also reduces some symptoms of anxiety, such as muscle aches and pains, and also works against insomnia.

Oriental relaxation sports such as tai chi, yoga, bodywork, and pilates are recommended to combat acute or chronic states of anxiety. It takes care of the body and mind, offering resources such as breath management to learn how to control reactions to the hardships of daily life.

6. Improves our behavior

Sports help us reinforce our values and our behavior based on our choices and the right attitude. We must respect not only ourselves but also others (opponents, referees, etc.). This involves following certain competition rules and learning how to win and how to lose. This is called fair play.

Other factors that reinforce our positive behavior are teamwork, camaraderie, loyalty, and courage. These are necessary to become a good player.

7. Slows and prevents cognitive decline

Age is a crucial factor in cases of cognitive decline as well as in the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Science has once again proven that physical activity, especially in youth and adulthood, increases the number of chemicals in the brain that prevent neuronal degeneration in the hippocampus, the area affected by dementia.

Aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming, or cycling on a regular and consistent basis, is the exercise most associated with improved mental functioning. In the specific case of Alzheimer's disease, exercise can prevent or delay its onset and help avoid its progression. The result is improved physical, mental, and cognitive health, which is especially important for people with chronic conditions.

Other studies have concluded that regular exercise increases longevity and reduces the onset of disease at this stage of life through its protective cardiovascular effects.

8. Enhanced memory

Sports stimulate the area of the hippocampus, whose main functions are memory and learning. In this sense, remembering information, preparing for exams, learning a new vocabulary or even a new language can be beneficial through exercise.

9. Combats sleep disorders: insomnia and drowsiness

Sleep is necessary for human beings, it makes up almost a third of our lives. When we sleep, several physiological changes take place in the body that is necessary to recover from the day's activities.

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in our society. Due to the fast pace of life, more and more people are experiencing sleep problems. Sports, by combating stress and relieving anxiety, allow us to fall asleep easily.

Several studies have shown that sleepiness during the day was lower in physically active people. If you have problems with sleepiness, moderate physical activity will allow you to enjoy better quality sleep, which will allow you to be clearer throughout the day. Or, if you’re a student, it’s better to ask help for essay writing services and sleep well.

10. Helps control addiction

For people addicted to tobacco or alcohol, exercise is an exceptional ally in learning to control their addictions. Why? Because our brains release the same neurotransmitters as they do when taking these substances. Our brains secrete dopamine (a reward neurotransmitter). Exercise also helps restore the biological clock, which is affected by substances that are addictive and detrimental to our physical and mental health.

11. Increases brain capacity

Getting your body in order is synonymous with getting your brain in order. Some studies claim that intense exercise increases levels of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) protein secreted in the brain, which can have a positive effect on decision-making, thinking, and learning.

12. Boosts performance

A healthy body contributes to a healthy mind, and a better mental state means higher performance. The higher the performance, the higher the productivity.

With renewed vigor, regular exercise increases vitality levels, which affects productivity daily, whether it's work, study, or daily activities - we couldn't make it easier for you!

13. Increases our ability to concentrate

All sports require some degree of concentration, and in some, it is simply necessary. In individual sports such as chess, tennis, or gymnastics, our mind is almost as important as our body. Concentration, or the lack thereof, makes the difference between good and bad results.

Concentration is also needed for writing essays or research papers, as some are constantly distracted. This characteristic is fundamental in childhood, which is why it is recommended to play sports as a child.

As you can see from our article, the benefits of sports for our mental and emotional health are many. So we suggest that you don't hesitate and choose a sport that is to your liking.

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Psychology Extra

Try some of these top tips to stay motivated, or these motivational quotes. Psychological assessment also plays an important role in sport psychology.

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