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Mental Benefits of Participating in Sports

Participating in sports and activites has multiple health benefits
Emily Bunchman
Conifer’s JV football team at practice on September 6, 2023. “Football is an intense sport that can almost make you forget about everything else going on,” freshman JV football player, Abigail Leidel said.

Mental health disorders are types of conditions that can negatively affect one’s thinking, feelings, mood, and behavior. Types of mental health disorders include mood, anxiety, personality, and psychotic disorders. In 2021 about 42% of students in high school reported poor mental health at some point in their lifetime and the number of teenagers reporting poor mental health is only increasing.

Sports and activities are just two ways of improving mental health and combating mental illness. 

“Volleyball and rugby help me through life. They keep me afloat in a way. It’s something to look forward to and something to work hard at. It’s a way to bond with people and learn more about yourself,” freshman Penelope Dickinson said.

Involvement in sports such as volleyball helps to improve mood and reduce stress. Physical activity also improves self-confidence, self-esteem, and body image. 

Sports aren’t the only way of improving these conditions. Gardening, reading, art, music, various club activities, and many other activities also help improve mental health. 

Honestly, people handle stress and things very differently. So personally, I handle stress the best when I can have time alone to think about it. So that might be like taking care of myself or exercising or reading or sometimes calling a friend depending on my mood. But usually I can figure out what’s best for me at the moment. Sometimes that can be going to football or hanging out with friends,” freshman Abigail Leidel said. 

While participation in sports and activities helps to combat mental illness it can also increase stress due to pressures such as injuries, family expectations, and overtraining. The physical and mental health of athletes can be affected because of injuries or other stressors related to their sport.

“I think sports can definitely influence your mindset to be positive if you do enjoy it, because it can allow you to be a part of a group and meet people that have the same interest as you. But on the other hand I know having that many things to do with school and sports can make me feel overwhelmed and stressed,” freshman Emery Fritz said. 

While there are some mental risks to playing sports and being involved in activities, participating in these activities has overarching positive effects such as sleep improvements, a reduction in stress levels, and an increase in serotonin and other positive signaling chemicals. 

“Life is like a heart rate monitor. You have ups and downs but if it’s all just neutral then you’re just flatlining,” Dickinson said. 

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