Sports and Outdoor Activities Beneficial For Mental Health
We often hear about how helpful sports and outdoor activities can be for our mental health. They are closely linked, with the release of chemicals in our brains which can have large and small effects on us – from giving you a short term rush to a healthy body and long term improved mental health.
The benefits of regular exercise and being outside on our physical health are clear to see, but just the very fact that you are healthier physically means that you are more likely to be healthier, mentally.
There are certain aspects to certain different sports activities which can be beneficial for your mental health, so here are a few sports that you could think about, and why they might be able to help you:
One of the best things about tennis is that you can’t play it on your own. This means that there is always a social aspect to the sport. Whether you book a court to play with a friend or family member, or just grab your tennis equipment and see who’s around to play, the act of interaction with other people can be extremely beneficial – and if that person is also funny and nice to be around, even better!
Tennis is also great for your brain. A game of tennis is an excellent workout for your cognitive function and keeping your reactions sharp.
You often hear about how people who enjoy running get a kind of addiction to it. Especially those who do a lot of long-distance running. The reason is that they often get a phenomenon known as a ‘runner’s high’, whereby the endorphins released after a long run have been proven to reduce stress and pain, as well as give you general happiness a boost.
Endorphins are known as the body’s natural opiates, giving you a sense of well-being and happiness. Running can be done on your own, with a friend, or in a group, so you can decide whether you want some quiet, reflective time, or to chat and be more sociable during your run.
Adrenaline sports could be white water rafting, sky diving or mountaineering. Some extreme sports provoke a release of adrenaline through the body, and, when it is combined with dopamine, as is often the case with adrenaline and extreme sports, it gives the person an extreme sense of euphoria.
This feeling can also be rather addictive but pursuing adrenaline sports can also be great for your mental health.
In addition to the natural chemicals that are released into the body, another good thing about a lot of adrenaline sports is that you don’t do them every day – like going for a run, for example. This means that you need to plan it as a project and implement the plan – maybe by getting fit and training – which is also good for your mental health in several different ways.
Even if you’re not ready for parachuting or glacier walking, most sports will have a degree of adrenaline release, even if it is only a small amount.
In addition to the physical benefits of cycling, and the ‘normal’ psychological benefits of exercise, cycling also has another great benefit for many – it can help you to get out into nature. Being out and about is always good for our mental health but it can be especially good if you are in the fresh air and amongst nature. And cycling is a great way to get into the fresh air, along the seafront, in the woods, or even in the park.
Cycling is another one of those sports that can be done individually, on your own, in a small group or a large group. You can cycle and contemplate the meaning of life, or you can enjoy the camaraderie and social interaction of a cycling club.
All sports are good for you in a range of different ways – and it is important for our physical and mental health to ensure that we are doing what we can – and what we enjoy. Some of the general benefits of doing sport, especially outside, include:
It can lower stress levels by giving you a release
It wears you out physically, often helping you to sleep
It can boost your confidence – often when you win, but also by physical changes in your body
When it comes to keeping your mind healthy, physical exercise and being outside is extremely valuable. If you are choosing a sport to take part in, variety is a good way to keep it fresh, but the most important thing is to do something that you enjoy doing. That way you can help yourself to stay happy and stay healthy for many years to come.