Sport for Mental Health
Why does Physical Activity, Exercise & Sport help?
Repair & Release
For the many abstract, prolonged threats in modern life that do not warrant a physical response, sport can provide the release or relief from a state of high alert. In an increasingly digital world, sport and physical activities carry meaningful sensory experiences to counterbalance digital stimuli are important tools in sensory integration.
Minimises Risk Factors
Regular exercise in the form of physical activity or sport is undoubtedly one of the best individual coping strategies against stress that improves the well-being of people, both with mental disorders and with good mental health.
Improves Protective Factors
Mastering new tasks and meeting goals, as well as feeling part of a sports team or sport club can have a brightening effect on our mood. Physical activity increases coping efficacy and memory function.
Results of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies indicate that aerobic exercises training has antidepressant and anxiolytic effects and protects against harmful consequences of stress.
Sport aids social inclusion, which greatly affects quality of life. It helps build personal resilience and self-confidence, as well as other personal and life skills which are protective factors in mental health promotion.
It improves self-esteem and a sense of community. Physical activity therefore plays an important role in treatment and dealing with modest to medium forms of mental health problems or mental illnesses (mostly depression and anxiety).
Choose a sport you enjoy!
While choosing, keep in mind that it suits your physical capacity, goals and availability.
For stress reduction, playing sport is more effective than physical activity like cycling to work or housework
Your sporting activity needs to be conducted in a way that aids mental and psychosocial development, health and well-being. Competition and evaluation in comparison to other’s performance can be particularly problematic for those with the low ability and self-esteem.
Role of coaches
Positive instruction such as praising good performance and effort, providing technical instruction in a non-judgmental way and encouragement with respect to improving on mistakes lead to greater self-esteem. Remember to pick a coach (and teammates) that encourage individuals to improve their own skills and performance rather than comparing with peers also encourage increased competence and self-esteem.
A support system is important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Recent studies indicated that training effects and mood improvement can also be achieved using internet- or telecommunication-based support.