Sports that can improve mental health + wellbeing

Some people find the challenges of sports to be therapeutic. Here are some sports that can improve mental health and wellbeing.

How can sports improve mental health?

Sport can improve mental health and wellbeing in a number of different ways. For example, the physical exercise that is required in sports is an excellent way to combat anxiety, stress, and depression. It can also reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation when partaking in group sports activities.

Sports are one way to combat negative feelings and improve mental health because it allows us to be active, feel great after exercising, and have an opportunity to connect with others.

Which sports can help to improve wellbeing?

This page explores the different ways sports can help people with their mental and physical wellbeing.

There is no single answer when it comes to which sports are best for mental and physical wellbeing. The answer depends on each individual person and their goals, needs, and preferences.

Some research suggests that there is a link between aerobic exercise like running and lower levels of depression, while others indicate that yoga can be effective in reducing anxiety levels. What’s important to remember is that there are many ways physical activity can play a role in improving your mental health.

You can also choose more than one sport to maximise the benefits. Here are some of the most popular sports when it comes to improving mental wellbeing through sport-related activity.

football can boost your mental health

Team sports like football can boost your mental health

Football is one of the most popular sports seen on television and on the internet. A lot of people think that football is just a game and that it’s just for entertainment and leisure. But playing football can be a way to improve mental health.

Football is a sport that has the power to improve mental health. It will help you maintain physical fitness, but football can also help provide a sense of accomplishment and social integration. When someone feels good about themselves, they are less likely to be depressed or experience anxiety.

There are so many mental health benefits to playing football such as reducing anxiety or managing depression symptoms, but also improving self-esteem or coping with stress levels and building confidence by achieving milestones in the game such as scoring goals.

Instead of just checking the football fixtures for your favourite teams, you can actually be a part of them for your own team and have your own fixtures, how exciting!  Being part of a football team will also lead itself to other social interactions and friendships, thus further improving mood through an improved social life and bonding.

Other team sports that can also improve wellbeing are:

  • Netball
  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Hockey

Simply find one you enjoy and find a local club to meet new people, improve your skills and boost your mental health.

Sports that can improve mental health + wellbeing

Running can release happy hormones

Red Bull put running at the top of their list when it comes to the sports which are best for mental health.  They note how some prolonged exercising, such as running, can result in a boost of endorphins:

‘It’s well documented how beneficial running is for our physical health, but many runners are also pounding tracks, paths and roads to improve their mindset. The reason lies in the overwhelming exhilaration — commonly known as a runner’s high — evoked by the release of endorphins, which not only reduce pain or stress but increase happiness as well.’

The act of running triggers the release of endorphins in the body which are also known as ‘happy hormones’. Endorphins are natural painkillers that help you feel better after a long or strenuous workout session. They also produce an overall sense of well-being which helps with feelings of depression, anxiety, and even stress.

Running can also be an effective way to relieve depression because it releases serotonin in two ways: first by triggering the release of endorphins and second by increasing blood flow to the brain which makes it possible for more serotonin to be produced there.

The added benefit of running is it’s an activity you can do by yourself with very little equipment needed, or you can choose to join a local running club to socialise with like-minded people.

Sports that can improve mental health + wellbeing

Swimming can reduce stress levels

Swimming is a sport that many people are able to do, no matter the age or the physical fitness level. Swimming is one of the best activities you can do for your health and wellbeing. It is a great way to stay fit and strong in a low-impact, low-stress environment. It is also an activity that can be done in any environment, including indoors during winter. Many people choose to swim outdoors in winter too, with the mental benefits of winter swimming studied and promising.

Swimming is one of the best exercises for our mental health as it provides a sense of calmness and relaxation. It helps us escape from all the problems in life, which can be really important for those who are under chronic stress or those who have difficult lives for various reasons. While swimming, we have the chance to feel the coolness of the water on our skin and hear its sound all around. This calming sound and sensation can help with stress relief and lower levels of anxiety.

It is a way to get out all our frustrations while practising our breathing techniques. Some people even say it helps with depression because it allows them to get in touch with their senses again and stop feeling numb.

Swimming is a great exercise for physical health too as it strengthens our muscles, improves our cardiovascular system, and help us to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.  

Sports that can improve mental health + wellbeing

Yoga calms the mind and brings awareness to mental health

We couldn’t finish this article without mentioning yoga.  Yoga is a great way to exercise and improve your mental health. It also helps you to control your emotions, keep calm and increase your self-confidence.

Yoga is a very old practice that has been around for thousands of years. In the last few decades, it has become more popular as a way to stay fit and promote mental health. Yoga can help you to relax tense muscles, relieve stress and anxiety. It also makes you feel more confident about yourself by increasing your strength of focus and concentration.

There are many different types of yoga so there is bound to be something for everyone. Some people prefer a gentle yoga routine while others enjoy a more strenuous routine – all depending on what they need from their practice at the time.

Here’s how yoga can help with your mental health:

  • The practise of yoga improves the overall well-being and promotes peace in the individual.
  • It increases self-awareness by opening up the channels of awareness so that you are aware of your thoughts, feelings, emotions etc.
  • It also enables you to feel grounded in the present moment by focusing on your breath.
  • Yoga improves your physical strength and fitness levels, which in turn helps your mental wellbeing.

Final word

Sports are an essential part of human life. They provide a sense of belonging, identity, and shared values.

Moreover, for some people, sports can be a vital tool in their mental health care plan. Mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety touch everyone in some way.  Sports may help people with anxiety disorders by mitigating the worries and fears about everyday life challenges. Sports-related physical activity can also improve mood, reduce stress levels, and promote overall wellbeing.

The physical aspect of sports can help to keep the body healthy, which in turn helps people to be able to take care of their mental health. Sports also have an emotional benefit for people who are struggling with mental health issues because it provides a sense of belongingness.

People who are suffering from mental illness can feel isolated or lonely, but team sports or gym memberships can provide an opportunity for them to bond with other people who share the same interests without feeling judged or stigmatised. 

4 thoughts on “Sports that can improve mental health + wellbeing”

  1. I’ve shared the positives of sports and team work while growing up with parents, but also family activities like fishing and camping, getting out of the world of electronics and our intellect.

  2. These are really good ideas. It’s good to try different ones out and find out which work for you.

  3. I always want to try yoga!


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