10 Psychological, Physiological and Social Benefits of Sport
There are not only physical benefits to staying fit and active; there are mental, emotional, and social rewards that contribute to leading a healthy lifestyle shaped by sport. Participating in any form of regular physical activity, sport or even physical education classes at school can lead to a range of significant health benefits for people – both young and old!
Here are 10 benefits that sport can provide:
- Sport improves your mood
Scientists are not sure on the exact cause as to why mood can be elevated or heightened during and after physical exercise. However, there are a number of reasons why playing sport is thought to be beneficial to mood, and it is all to do with your brain’s chemical makeup. Exercise has been observed through MRI scans to release hormones such as serotonin, which is responsible for helping to regulate mood and appetite, and endorphins, which play a role in your body’s response to coping with and repressing pain.
- Sport improves your sleep habits
As with mood, while it is unclear the true reasons why exercise and sleep are connected, technological advancements allow closer looks at the chemical compounds of the brain to view this connection. One theory relates to core body temperature.
When playing sport, your body’s core temperature increases with physical exertion, which speaks to your brain as a way to communicate alertness within your body’s natural clock. Approximately 30-90 minutes after physical exertion ends, the body’s core temperature begins to fall, coinciding with the recovery your muscles naturally undergo after exercise. This ‘recovery’ mimics the patterns of rejuvenation your body undergoes when you sleep and draws on this pattern as you transition to sleep at the end of the day.
- Sport improves your concentration
There are many studies conducted with athletes who engage in low- and high-level sports training, who have attributed regular exercise to higher levels of concentration in other areas of their lives.
Sport generally requires a high level of focus, attention, and reaction to moments of play. With repetition, athlete brains have been observed to create patterns from strengthening the ability to ‘drown out’ background noise and distraction, as they would during gameplay, and use these same focus patterns in areas such as school or work environments.
- Sport strengthens your muscles and bones
Muscle size increases when there are challenges to the weight and force placed upon it. Muscle hypertrophy is the progression of muscle size and shape, as a result of damaged fibres in the muscle (caused by regular exercise) fusing together to create a stronger connection.
As with muscle, bone also changes over time in response to weight and force. The bone adapts by building more bone around it and becoming denser. Stronger muscles and denser bones allow your body to withstand weight and movement easier.
- Sport improves your balance
A simple way of improving balance is through practicing various means of hand-eye coordination.
The inner-ear vestibular system constantly sends messages to your eye muscles in order to maintain balance. Many sport activities have the main focus of hand-eye coordination, so regular practice with catching a ball or hitting with a bat improves the movement of your eyes while keeping the head steady, which in turn strengthens the system responsible for balance.
- Sport improves your cardiovascular health
The heart is extremely benefited by engaging in regular sporting activities. Any elevation in the body’s movement, even with a fast-paced walk, increases circulation of oxygenated blood around the body, which powers every organ. Additionally, with regular exercise, the blood constantly finds new ways of travelling quickly and more efficiently around your body, should it come across any cholesterol build-up, meaning the body is still provided with the blood it needs to keep functioning.
- Sport promotes teamwork skills
Teamwork skills are often first cultivated within a sporting environment, and can shape ongoing interactions with others, such as in the workplace, in later life.
When playing sport, communication skills can be strengthened as you work with teammates who you may not necessarily get along. Players are often working alongside people from all walks of life, who may think differently or disagree with one another, but are all ultimately working to achieve a common goal.
- Sport teaches you to respect the rules
Sport, especially within a team environment, is structured by rules and guidelines in order to be played safely and correctly. Sports coaches are critical in helping people build positive relationships and often they help develop and set the rules on gameplay, uniform, communication, interaction with others and the competition format. Without these rules, there can be a lot of confusion and questions about what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ within the game. Understanding why rules are in place and the purpose they serve within a particular sport can then enable you to respect the presence of rules within society.
- Sport teaches you leadership skills
Playing sport can allow you to learn and strengthen leadership skills adaptable to everyday life. Within a competitive environment, fast-thinking and problem-solving are two big parts of ensuring you can work to achieve the objective, like kicking a goal or hitting the ball well. In addition, setting out short- or long-term goals (such as winning today’s match or winning the season premiership) are indicative of forward thinking and advanced planning, which can make for an influential teammate and leader.
- Sport teaches you empathy
Empathy allows somebody to focus on how another person thinks and feels, and to show some understanding towards how they may view things. In a sporting environment, empathy is extremely important for athletes and teammates to recognise in each other, in order to push forward and try harder. It allows you to keep moving forward when you feel like giving up and allows for an open response to feedback and improvement on performance.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Kidzphyz Sports offers a range of PE and sport based programs, delivered in person and virtually. Programs include PE classes, fitness workshops, school holiday sports camps, holiday programs, clinics and activities for kids of all ages to enjoy.
Sport Staff One is Australia’s Largest Network of Coaches & Umpires. We believe in developing grassroots and school sport so everyone has the opportunity to play and experience the positive ideals of physical activity. For every goal scored, run made and try put down; SSO are here so you can experience it.
- John Hopkins Medicine “Exercising for Better Sleep”: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/exercising-for-better-sleep
- Harvard Medical School Health Publishing “The many ways exercise helps your heart”: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-many-ways-exercise-helps-your-heart