The research paper delves into the physical and mental health outcomes of playing sports and regular exercising to understand the role of activity in well-being. Based on the reviewed studies, due to physical changes, sports activities can produce mood improvement effects, and people benefit from getting pleasure as a result of muscle tension and relaxation. The positive impact of sports is closely associated with the concept of social support and changes in self-esteem. Exercising can be similar to the mind-body approach to mood stabilization, reduces anxiety by making the body adapt to new tension-relaxation cycles, and increases a person’s competitiveness and self-confidence.
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The studies of people’s minds, behaviors, and inner experiences find reflection almost in any field of human activity, including sports. Being an application of psychological concepts to athletic performance and teamwork, sports psychology allows studying problems peculiar to athletes and keeping track of mental health changes linked to physical activity. This essay argues that exercising and sports contribute to mental and physical well-being by promoting psychological change and improving mood and self-esteem.
Exercising as an Essential Antidepressant
An individual’s willingness to engage in active exercising, be it playing competitive sports games or building his or her workout routine, has a profound impact on one’s emotions. Today, sports and exercising are widely recognized as natural antidepressants since strenuous activity, if it is appropriate for a person’s health condition and age, is often followed by improvements in emotional condition (Keaton, Gearhart, & Honeycutt, 2014). These effects do not disappear when it comes to short workouts, and this fact enables people whose physical endurance is low to use exercising for mood stabilization (Keaton et al., 2014). Aerobic exercises, an increasingly popular type of physical activity, have pronounced mood improvement effects in mentally healthy populations (de Oliveira, de Mello, Tufik, & Peres, 2019). There is a growing body of evidence linking these outcomes of aerobic exercise to its impact on the production of endocannabinoids (de Oliveira et al., 2019). Therefore, a moderate exercise routine is a good method to improve mood in non-pathological situations.
Sports’ positive influence on people’s psychological condition is also linked to social approval or feel encouraged to continue some activities. It is widely accepted that regular exercises contribute to a person’s ability to reach and maintain a healthy weight and develop coping skills, which makes sports regarded as something positive (Liu, Wu, & Ming, 2015). According to modern research, interventions based on physical activities are associated with improvements in self-concept and auto-evaluation scores in school-age children (Liu et al., 2015). Additionally, the feeling that sports participation is something good and right can improve self-image at the individual level. Although the role of physical activity in academic performance is still a matter of dispute, it is known that sports participation is inextricably linked to parental support and self-esteem (Qurban, Siddique, Wang, & Morris, 2018). Based on the abovementioned findings, sports make positive contributions to a person’s self-image since physical activity is typically associated with health and willpower.
To some extent, physical activity can be regarded as body therapy that does not require the participation of a therapist. The core idea of the mind-body therapy approach is to combine practices that encourage emotional stabilization, for instance, meditation, and physical activity (Upchurch, Gill, Jiang, Prelip, & Slusser, 2018). It implies that low-intensity emotional experiences may affect the state of the physical body and cause positive long-term changes. Moderate physical activity, as is clear from modern research, is associated with positive emotional experiences, which explains its antidepressant effects, and causes physical improvements as well (Rebar et al., 2015). To continue, it is also critical to recognize that sports, especially muscle-strengthening exercises, involve muscle tension and significantly increase the expenditure of energy. After the periods of active work, it is easier for the body to relax, which explains sports’ effectiveness in reducing anxiety in populations without mental illness (Rebar et al., 2015). Thus, the role of sports in promoting well-being is linked to its impact on both psychological and physical health.
Physical Activity and Psychological Changes
Exercising and sports participation can also promote positive psychological changes by making a person more competitive and self-confident. On average, the willpower reserve of athletes is significantly greater than that of people who do not exercise regularly (Hoffer & Giddings, 2016). As a result of this tendency, physically active people are more likely to achieve professional success and have higher wages compared to their peers that do not exercise (Hoffer & Giddings, 2016). By increasing the level of activity, it is possible to make an individual more persistent at work, thus promoting his or her ability to withstand competition (Hoffer & Giddings, 2016). More than that, activity is among the factors that predict self-confidence. For instance, those with the experience of playing competitive sports typically score higher than people without it on a self-confidence scale (Comeig, Grau-Grau, Jaramillo-Gutiérrez, & Ramírez, 2016). With that in mind, exercising is linked to shifts in mental attitudes and can sometimes be used to encourage behavioral changes.
To sum it up, exercising and playing sports can boost an individual’s self-esteem by encouraging positive psychological and physiological changes. Although playing sports can be stressful, in some circumstances, such activities promote self-confidence and competitiveness, simultaneously contributing to the development of coping skills and mood normalization. Due to that, people are highly recommended to commit themselves to regular exercises to improve and maintain physical and mental health.
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