Sports and Mental Health

McCarly sits on a bench outdoors on campus.

Junior Psychology major McCarly Thompson shares advice on how taking up exercise or participating in sports improves more than just our physical well-being.

It is safe to say that the watching and/or playing of sports has been one of the world’s greatest pastimes for centuries. From childhood, through the stages of adulthood, leading up to old age, humans all over the country participate in sports-related activities throughout their daily life.

McCarly sitting on a bench next to his skateboard.

According to the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, “The Royal College of Psychiatrists recognize exercise prescription as a treatment modality for a wide range of mental health conditions.” That’s right: Not only can exercising and participating in sports benefit us on the physical level, but also the mental level as well! 

Participating in exercise and sports on a team-based or competitive level has many benefits to our mental health in ways we may not even imagine. By helping us form social connections with others, sports can prevent and decrease the chances of depression and help us create strong relationships with people of similar interest as us. Participating in these activities also do justice on the personal level by increasing motivation and self-esteem via selective hormones in the body. Physical activity is also good for children in helping them make friendships, learn how to problem solve, and work their way through a task to reach an end goal.

Clinicians have recently been promoting physical activity as a substitution for many other intervention services. Instead of writing up a prescription or putting someone in an institution, physical therapists have seen positive results in just advising several hours of physical activity a week to their patients. Ironically, it is important to note that many professional athletes do not seek mental health assistance due to the stigma behind it. The stereotype also follows that “big, strong men” don’t need to talk to anyone about their problems or feelings, when in fact this is not the case.

Therapeutic service has actually been shown to increase performance in athletes, proving a strong correlation between sport and mental health. I believe that if we as a people raise awareness of the benefits of sports/physical activity, we would see the rise of a healthier generation on the physical and mental side, and also more elite athletes, able to reach their full potential on the field.

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Story by:
McCarly Thompson, junior, psychology major

Photography by:
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major

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