There’s plenty of evidence that taking part in physical activity can have a profound and positive impact on mental wellbeing. Being physically active can improve mood, decrease the chance of depression and anxiety and lead to a better and more balanced lifestyle.
How does sport improve your mental health?
What are the mental health benefits of exercise? – Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. It can also get you out in the world, help to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation, and put you in touch with other people.
Do sports reduce stress?
10 Scientifically Validated Mental Benefits of Sports – Scientists have been exploring the link between exercise and mood for more than 100 years. As a result, they have produced a large body of research on physical activity and mental health, including the link between sports and mental health.
- Exercise positively impacts levels of serotonin, a chemical that helps regulate mental health, and stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which improves mood.
- Physical activity releases endorphins, the body’s natural “happy chemicals,” and reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Sports are associated with lower rates of stress, anxiety, depression, and suicidal behavior.
- Participation in team sports reduces the risk of teen substance abuse and other reckless behaviors.
- Team sports enhance resilience, empathy, confidence and empowerment.
- They have also been shown to increase executive functioning, creativity, cognitive development, and self-regulation.
- Improved teamwork and social responsibility are additional benefits of team sports for mental health.
- The more time spent being physically active, the less time a teen spends on social media, which is proven to lower adolescent well-being,
- Teen sports, as well as other outdoor activities, get teens outside so they can experience the benefits of time in nature,
- Sleep improves when teens are physically active—which is important because sleep is essential for maintaining mental health.
In fact, research shows that sports and other types of physical activity can be equally as effective as medication in improving teen mental health and happiness levels—while boosting physical health.
Do people with ADHD like extreme sports?
Table 1 – Extreme sports and morbidity/mortality risk
|Type of extreme sport or study
|More than 300 deaths worldwide 1 Wingsuit mortality as high as 1/50 participants 1 – 5
|Swedish BASE Jumping Study 1
|1 fatality/60 participants; 1 death/2317 jumps 1
|Mei-Dan et al 2 (Israel)
|72% witnessed death or serious injury, 43% of jumpers sustained a serious BASE jumping injury, 76% witnessed a “near miss” or narrowly avoided fatality Injury rate estimates of 0.2% to 0.4% per jump and fatality rates of 0.04% per jump or 1.7% per participant and year
|1 death/100,000 jumps 6
|Scuba diving, Divers Alert Network 7
|16.7 deaths/100,000 divers per year
|1 death/320,000 climbs 8, 9
|1 death/1,351,000 trips (5.5 deaths/million participants) 10
|417 free diving accidents: 308 fatal, 109 nonfatal 7
|Hang gliding, paragliding
|In the US, 1 death/560 flights 11
Geneticists have explored possible links between a propensity for high-risk activities and genetic markers. The putative connection of polymorphisms of the D4 subtype of the dopamine 2 receptor, a G protein-coupled receptor that inhibits adenylyl cyclase, with risk-taking, novelty-seeking behavior in humans and other living organisms is a link from a teleologic perspective.12 – 15 The work of Thomson and associates 14 with skiers and snowboarders is especially intriguing.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter most associated with “action,” addiction, and substance abuse. There is a clear link between risk taking and the adrenaline/dopamine/endorphin surge experienced by extreme sports participants. This surge is like the phenomenon seen in gambling and risk-heavy professions such as financial trading, which continually entice participants back to their chosen “edge work.” 16 For participants with severe hyperactive/impulsive attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), extreme sports can be fairly calming and can even provide therapeutic neuromodulation with “positive” reinforcement potential elicited by dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, endorphins, and stress hormone hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation, which produces a state of optimal arousal.17, 18 The dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitter surge may help to modulate behavior, reversing under-activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and dysregulation of multiple brain pathways involved in the attentional and impulse control processes.19, 20 Cloninger’s work on personalities 21 regarding four dimensions of human behavior (harm avoidance, reward dependence, novelty seeking, and perseverance) serves as a helpful template with which to evaluate the personality structures of those who actively participate in extreme sports.
Similarly, Zuckerman’s Sensation Seeking Scale, now in its fifth iteration, 22 which evaluates four different subscales of thrill and adventure seeking, disinhibition, experience seeking, and boredom susceptibility, provides an excellent framework with which to assess the behavioral traits and functioning of extreme sports participants.
A suicidal level of risk taking may be present in extreme athletes. Dean Potter, a pioneering free climber, slackline walker, and “free BASER,” frequently referred to death. He stated, “You are playing with death then and it feels so good.” About wingsuit flying he said, ” turns the impossible into the possible,” and “Instead of dying, I’m flying.” He earned the grudging admiration of rangers and throngs of climbing visitors at Yosemite National Park, where he completed many of his most audacious feats.23, 24 Likelihood of affective disturbance or diathesis is much higher in this risk-taking population.
Extreme sports participation may serve as a temporary antidepressant, lifting mood at least on a short-term basis, perhaps not dissimilar to the way the anesthetic agent ketamine can potentially help in the setting of resistant depression.25 The combination of an endogenous “rush” of multiple neurotransmitters and physical activity greatly amplifies the protective and healthy effect that people involved in “safe” sporting exercise also experience.26 Bike motocross (BMX) participants describe the degree to which an athlete’s desire to pull a never-before-seen trick or stunt outweighs conventional calculations of risk.27 Participants in this sport, an X Games favorite, tend to idealize, romanticize, and mythologize extravagant risk taking as “highly motivational passion.” Descriptions include: “‘We are not normal people.
In the best sense of the word, we are childlike.'” 27 “His mind was ‘so trigger.'” 27 There is a naïve explorer’s curiosity vis-à-vis the severe pain response as exemplified by ex-BMX racer TJ Lavin, who said, “I didn’t know we could slam like that,” after breaking both legs.27 When champion BMX biker Dave Mirra retired from BMX in 2011, he said of his younger competitors, “They’ll die.
Just like I would when I was younger. I would have died to win.” 27 In February 2016, Mirra committed suicide by gunshot wound in his car after an argument with friends. A postmortem examination identified chronic traumatic encephalopathy attributable to innumerable concussions sustained during his freestyle BMX career.28 More than 300 BASE jumping-related deaths were recorded between 1981 and 2016; interest in the sport accelerated after 2000 with increased coverage and financial rewards associated with the sport.29 The number of wingsuit deaths is unknown, but many of the most prominent proponents and pioneers of this field have died, including Dean Potter and Mark Sutton, who was famous for parachuting as James Bond into the stadium at the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.30
Is exercise good for mental illness?
Why does exercise make us feel better, mentally? – Often, people who exercise regularly do it simply because it makes them feel good. Exercise can boost your mood, concentration and alertness. It can even help give you a positive outlook on life. The link between exercise and mental health is complicated.
The levels of chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, stress hormones and endorphins, change when you exercise. Regular exercise can help you sleep better. And, Exercise can improve your sense of control, coping ability and self-esteem. People who exercise regularly often report how good achieving a goal makes them feel. Exercise can distract you from negative thoughts and provide opportunities to try new experiences. It offers an opportunity to socialise and get social support if you exercise with others. Exercise increases your energy levels. Physical activity can be an outlet for your frustrations. Exercise can reduce skeletal muscle tension, which helps you feel more relaxed.
The physical benefits of exercise are also important for people with mental illness. It improves your cardiovascular health and overall physical health. This is important because people with mental health issues are at a higher risk of suffering from chronic physical conditions such as,, and,
Do sports build confidence?
Confidence in sport – If you asked anyone, “what do you think is the most important psychological factor needed to excel in sport?”, you would likely come across self-confidence and self-belief in the answers. Many people think self-confidence helps athletes thrive in their chosen sport, helping them to overcome obstacles they experience along the way.
Why is anxiety bad in sport?
Smith and Smoll model – The Smith and Smoll model, first suggested in 1990, offered one of the first multidimensional models of sports performance anxiety. According to this model, multiple dimensions of anxiety can feed into one another.
- First, the mental element. You may anticipate how tough your upcoming match will be and wonder whether you can win. You could also start worrying about any consequences of losing.
- Next, the physical symptoms. As you become more anxious, your body’s fight-or-flight response might kick in. This response can lead to physical symptoms like sweating and shaking.
- Then, the in-the-moment impact. Physical and mental anxiety symptoms could easily distract you from the game and affect your ability to play. As your performance declines, you may feel increasingly worried. Anxiety about losing, then, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Does sport help with anxiety?
The physical benefits of exercise — improving physical condition and fighting disease — have long been established, and physicians always encourage staying physically active. Exercise is also con sidered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.
When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. Or, if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
Why do sports reduce anxiety?
How Sports Help Your Mental Health – We all know that sports are great for your physical health. But sports also have many psychological benefits. Help moderate stress. About 75% to 90% of doctor visits are for stress-related illnesses. Sports help you manage stress.
- Exercise causes your body to release endorphins, the chemicals in your brain that relieve pain and stress.
- It also reduces the levels of stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline,
- Studies have shown that 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day can make people feel calmer.
- This calmness continues several hours after exercise.
Improve your mood. Playing a sport such as golf or skiing forces you to put aside your worries and concentrate on the task at hand. This helps you clear your mind and calm down. It also helps you sleep better. Produce long-term mental health effects. Participation in sports can have long-term effects on your mental health.
- Researchers studied 9,688 children who had bad childhood experiences, such as physical and sexual abuse, or emotional neglect.
- They found that those children who took part in team sports had better mental well-being when they were adults.
- Boost mental health with team sports.
- Taking part in sports in a group has a greater impact on mental health than individual sports.
Researchers in Australia found that women who played tennis and netball in clubs had better mental health than those who exercised alone, like walking or working out at the gym. There were no differences in physical health between the two groups. A study of teenage athletes found that those who played individual sports more likely reported experiencing anxiety and depression,
- This may be because those in team sports often play for fun.
- Individual sports don’t require another person to compete together and may make the athlete experience more stress than enjoyment.
- Help fight addiction,
- A study of Norwegian teenagers found that those who played in team sports were less likely to smoke cigarettes and use cannabis as adults.
Researchers in Korea recommended the use of sports to help teens combat internet addiction. Help with depression. Sports help treat depression. Studies show that exercise improves symptoms of depression and reduces the risk of relapse. Exercise was found to be as effective as standard antidepressant treatment in one study, with modest amounts of exercise helping to improve depression.
Why do sports make you happier?
How does exercise make you happy? – One aspect of life that can greatly impact your overall sense of happiness and well-being is stress. Stress can dampen your mood and lead to increased risk of illness.2 There is good news: Exercise is one of the best ways to combat stress! According to research, exercise has many benefits including decreased risk of depression, improved health status and improved reports of happiness.1 Concurrently, a sedentary lifestyle has been associated with many poor health outcomes.3 When we exercise, the body releases chemicals that boost your sense of well-being and suppress hormones that cause stress and anxiety.1 Among the chemicals released are endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine neurotransmitters which are related to pain and depression emotions.3 Exercise also reduces hormone activity of adrenalin and cortisol which promote feelings of anxiety and tension.3
Why do athletes feel depressed?
Performance and Depression – From a psychological perspective, athletes may be prone to experience depression symptoms when they face declines in their athletic performance or a catastrophic (“choking”) athletic performance. Conceptually poor athletic performance may result in lack of external reinforcement, behavioral deactivation, negative self-perceptions and evaluations, and feeling of helplessness or hopelessness, which are consistent with depression symptoms.
- When viewed in an objective context, the nature of athletic competition can yield higher rates of loss throughout the year and ultimately only one team or athlete may achieve the pinnacle while all others end their season or career with a competitive loss.
- Hammond et al.
- 12 ) conducted a study to examine the relationship between the prevalence of diagnosed failure-based depression and self-reported symptoms of depression within a sample of 50 elite swimmers.
Of note in this study was a 68% lifetime prevalence of depression episodes among the participants, with significantly more females endorsing history of depression. The authors found that after an athletic competition, 34% of the athletes had clinically elevated depression scores on the BDI-II but the top quartile of elite performance had 2 times higher rate of elevated depression scores.
- Considering the fact that the Olympics only occur every 4 years may account for this effect, it is still important to note that within this elite performer group, there was a significant relationship between the athlete’s performance and depression symptoms.
- This study illustrates that some high-performing athletes actually may be more susceptible to depression when faced with performance outcomes that are below expectation and that sports medicine personnel need to be aware of the psychological consequences of losing or personally failing during competition.
Those providing comprehensive care for the athlete should understand that the expectations for athletic performance have a number of influences and may include not only the athlete’s viewpoint but also the perception of teammates, coaches, and family.
Are athletes less likely to have depression?
Depression – Athletes may be more predisposed to depression compared to the general population and suggests that this is due to the physical and psychological demands placed upon them by the sporting environment, They are exposed to similar stressors as the general population with athletes experiencing bereavement, health concerns and relationship breakdowns,
Elite athletes are vulnerable to developing depressive symptoms due to their high status and extreme pressure that they experience, Publicly evaluated performance and a perceived acceptance in an elite environment which is dependent upon results can be a vulnerability factor for depression, This sport-related stress when combined with other factors including moving away from home, risk taking behaviours and disordered eating may increase the risk of athletes developing common mental disorders,
There are a number of factors that increase an athlete’s risk of depression compared with the general population, These factors include injury, termination and performance pressures. There is a significant relationship between an athlete’s depressive symptoms and performance, and as an athlete’s depressive experiences intensified, their performances were negatively affected by their symptoms, although sometimes other symptoms of mental disorders such as anxiety can occur before depression.
There are mixed results within the literature examining athletes and depression. In US college athletes, 21.4% of athletes self-reported clinical symptoms of depression, and in Australian athletes, 46.4% of athletes experienced symptoms of at least one common mental disorder including 27.2% for depression,
The literature confirms that depression does exist within male athletes and there are a variety of factors both related to being an athlete and also factors comparable to the general population.