A Thousand and One Psychological Benefits of Playing Sports

In recent years, the sporting activities have only increased. We no longer question the multiple benefits they provide, both physically andpsychologically, and they enjoy a high status in our culture. 

KNOW YOURSELF

15 September 2017

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Today, physical exercise is done not only to burn fat or gain muscle, but also by those looking for a healthier life.

Most people who begin a sport are motivated, but statistics indicate that about half stop within the first six months. To achieve the above benefits, consistency is paramount.

There are many studies that show the psychological benefits of physical activity, among the most important being: increased sense of well-being, increased self-confidence and self-esteem, improved intellectual function, decreased anxiety and depression, reduced levels of stress and tension, and increased energy levels.

These benefits are so potent and the emotional effects it generates are so desirable that the use of physical exercise as a therapeutic resource has been proposed from a clinical point of view. Some programmes already incorporate it into the treatment of anxiety and depression disorders in combination with other therapies.


How can exercise help improve mental health?

•  It increases blood flow and oxygenation, which has beneficial effects on the central nervous system.

•  It increases the production of norepinephrine (noradrenaline), moderating the brain's response to stress.

•  It stimulates the release of endorphins, chemicals that produce feelings of well-being and happiness.

•  Brain activity is also increased. On the one hand, more neurons and more connections between them are produced and, on the other hand, it increases the production of chemicals that prevent the degeneration of hippocampal neurons.

•  It improves sleep and rest.

•  It increases self-esteem, also influencing assertiveness, emotional stability, independence, self-control and academic or work performance, among others.


In short, the practice of sports makes the body react very positively and generates an increase in the level of mental well-being and cognitive functions in particular.

Physical activity is a social experience that helps maintain and improve many abilities, provides very pleasurable sensations, helps release tension and improves self-esteem by placing the person in a training situation to achieve a particular goal.


HOW TO CONVERT EXERCISE INTO HABIT

• Find the right sport or activity for each person.
• Adjust the training schedule to the personal agenda.
• Be realistic when it comes to scheduling the goals to be achieved.
• Perform training gradually.
• Do the activity in a group, with other people.
• Remember the benefits that are achieved in the short term.
• Anticipate the benefits that can be achieved in the long term.
• Record progress.
• Make it a positive experience, consider it fun.
• Use extrinsic rewards.