Sport and its impact on physical and mental wellbeing

By in Health & Fitness

Wednesday 15th May 2019

Over the years the pace of life has considerably increased, and today’s generation can often struggle to keep up.  With a staggering 300 million people suffering from depression and anxiety worldwide1, taking care of mental and physical wellbeing has never been so important.

In the UK alone, 1 in 4 people suffer from either depression or anxiety2. With different methods for combating mental health issues often discussed, one easy way to improve this is by taking up sport. Mental and physical health goes hand in hand, as physical activity releases endorphins which can boost our mood.

However, when it comes to sport it appears that men are much more likely to get involved with 1.73 million fewer women playing3. Such a crucial contributor to better physical and mental health should be enjoyed by all. CEO of Westfield Health, Dave Capper, discusses the importance of supporting teams, such as the Sheffield Hatters Women’s British Basketball League team, and how they have a crucial role in encouraging women to play sport.

The Sheffield Hatters win the Women’s British Basketball League cup final

  1. Helping with depression

“Physical activity is well known to have a beneficial effect on mental health with research suggesting that there’s a 20-30% reduction in depression amongst adults who participate in physical activity daily4. Whether playing a team sport, or taking up individual activity, this can increase self-esteem and reduce stress, which helps to increase mental wellbeing and quality of life.

“Women in the Sheffield Hatters find playing in the team really important in relieving stress. Overseas student, Ana Santana González finds playing basketball keeps her fit and healthy, whilst also serving as a distraction from anything stressful occurring in her life.”

  1. Forming friendships

“Interaction with others is a key factor in maintaining good health and wellbeing, and the benefits of building and maintaining relationships are key. Team sports, such as basketball, give players the chance to make friends and gain their support, whilst also building confidence. This in turn allows people to build connections and feel part of something whilst also improving their physical health.

“For Sheffield Hatter, Alison Gorrell, her team is like her family where lifelong friendships have been built. Although the main aim of the team is to play basketball, she believes that it goes far beyond this, and that without the team the opportunities to play the sport she loves and meet people wouldn’t be there.”

  1. Being role models

“As our lives become increasingly sedentary, much needs to be done to encourage the next generation, especially girls, to take up sport. Whether parents encourage their children to watch inspirational athletes, or simply move more with them, this can be crucial in motivating young people to get more involved in physical activity.

“The Sheffield Hatters give local girls the opportunity to see that professional sports aren’t just for men. Players like Sarah Cooney believe that it’s important to set an example for the younger generation of potential sportswomen and the Sheffield Hatters helps to recognise women’s sport to be on a par with male sports. Player Naomi Campbell believes that playing sport helps her inspire her students and show them that there’s more to life than just academic achievements.”

  1. Honing skills

“Sport is beneficial in improving motivation and the ability to focus. With our attention span consistently decreasing due to social media and the internet, it can be challenging to work on honing a skill, which can lead to an increase in stress and anxiety. While all physical activity and goal setting can contribute to our wellbeing, team sports often have even more of an impact due to playing alongside talented individuals.

“Brigha Allen, a Sheffield-based student who plays for the Hatters, found that once she started training alongside her experienced and talented team mates, her abilities significantly improved, and that without the team she wouldn’t have grown as a player.”

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