We all know that participating in sports at any level is great for our health and fitness. However, did you know that watching sports can also have a positive impact on your health? Watching sports has a range of benefits for our health and wellbeing, encouraging connections and a sense of community.
Sports Give you a Mental Workout
Watching sports gives you a significant mental workout, and helps to keep your brain healthy and sharp. One study by the University of Chicago found that watching sports and participating in sports fandom more generally resulted in improved neural connections in the brain, particularly those related to linguistic ability and comprehension.
This is likely because closely following sports involves tracking the performance of teams and players, comparing statistics and discussing these with other fans – all of which is a great mental workout! Most avid sports fans will spend time breaking down the game afterwards, predicting the result beforehand, and analysing and research all the associated data, not unlike breaking down a puzzle.
It Builds Self-Esteem
Following sports also builds fans’ self-esteem, an important part of mental health and wellbeing. When you follow a team, you feel deeply connected to that team, almost like being part of a traditional tribe. Likewise, when your team wins, you feel a sense of personal achievement, almost as if it were your own accomplishment, which helps to boost your self esteem.
Rooting for your team together with other members of your tribe (the other fans) makes you feel part of something larger than yourself, which is important for your self-esteem. Additionally, the social connections and support you gain through sports fandom contribute to improved self-esteem.
It Reduces Stress
Stress can be detriment to not only your mental health, but your physical health too. Stress, particularly over the long term, contributes to a range of conditions and results in symptoms including digestive problems, sleep issues, headaches, and more. Unfortunately, stress is also become a regular feature in our modern lives, whether work pressures, family issues, or other struggles.
Watching sports provides much-needed stress relief, being an ideal distraction from the pressures of modern life. While you watch sports you become absorbed in the game, and your worries fade away into the distance. Sports are the perfect way to take you out of your day-to-day stress and concentrate on something else, no matter if your team wins or looses.
Sports Reduces the Risk of Depression
Along with stress, watching sports can also help to reduce depression. Depression is a common condition throughout the population, and particularly problematic for men, who struggle to identify depression and seek help. Sports have a particularly useful role in reducing depression in sports fans for a few different reasons.
Sports helps to foster a sense of belonging as you connect to your team, as well as the strong connections you make with friends and families while watching your favourite team play. This social activity, as well as the connection to your team and the wider world, prevents isolation which is a strong pre-determinant for depression.
You Build Strong Relationships
One of the great advantages of following sports is that it helps you to build strong relationships with others. These connections and close relationships, in turn, support better mental health and wellbeing. Watching sports can be a great bonding activity for family members and couples. Couples that watch sport together bond over their shared love of the sport, and their relationship grows stronger as they go through the trials and tribulations of their team together.
Sports fans can also become part of a community of other fans. Getting together with sports-loving friends is an excellent social opportunity. This can also help you to connect with new people and become part of a new community of sports lovers. This is particularly common in today’s online world: joining an online community like Sports Pundit is a great way to connect with other sports lovers.
Potential Weight Loss
Believe it or not, but watching sports may even help you to shift some of lose unwanted pounds. Sure, sitting on the couch while you enjoy a match won’t do much for your waistline, but it may inspire you to get active. Watching your favourite team play could motivate you to pick up a ball yourself or join a local league, or perhaps go to the gym to get a body like your favourite players.
There is some evidence that you may even get a physical workout simply by watching sports. You may have noticed how tired you feel after watching an exciting match. Some studies have found that some sports fans experience increased muscle activity while watching content that portrays physical activity, almost as if they are playing along with their favourite players.
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