Engaging in sports or any type of physical activity doesn't only provide physical benefits like weight control. It also helps prevent diseases like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer, while improving sleep and increasing energy. Playing sports also provides many mental benefits, including a more positive mood and improved self-esteem.
Exercise stimulates the production of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters and brain chemicals like endorphins. Endorphins are pain-relieving, opiate-like chemicals that make you feel good; in some people, they invoke a feeling of euphoria. Endorphins promote the feeling known as runner's high, which also occurs after any intense form of exercise or physical activity. Additionally, some studies have shown that regular exercise alters the amount of serotonin in your brain, possibly helping stave off mental illnesses like depression, says the Better Health Channel.
Engaging in sports can promote stress relief and help alleviate stress-related illnesses such as insomnia and anxiety, according to an article in BBC's GCSE Bitesize. In fact, a 2004 survey by the American Psychological Association states that almost 45 percent of Americans exercise to help manage the effects of stress. Playing sports means that you're putting aside time for yourself to do something you enjoy, which is a form of self-care. Physical activity also burns off excess amounts of the stress hormone adrenaline, which can alleviate tension and help promote relaxation.
Playing team sports is a social activity, so by interacting with others you experience the benefits of social interaction. Not only can increased social interaction reduce stress and increase your mood, playing sports reduces social isolation and allows you an opportunity to make new friends and forget your worries while having fun with others.
Engaging in a sport can help boost your self-esteem through promoting feelings of accomplishment. When you achieve a team or individual goal, you feel a sense of achievement, which helps you feel better about yourself and leads to greater feelings of self-worth and esteem. According to the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, playing sports helps you take pride in your achievements and feel more confident in your physical abilities.