Team Up for Mental Health!

Written by Team Optimity

(2 min read)

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The health benefits of physical activity are undeniable. What may not always be top of mind is that regular physical activity can have a positive effect on your psychosocial health too, leading to mental health benefits in the process. 

Psychosocial health includes the emotional, mental, social, and spiritual dimensions of health. Taking part in regular physical activity has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety and stress, as well as improve cognitive function and quality of life. This is a result of the chemicals your body releases during physical activity called endorphins. Endorphins have a positive effect on your mental well-being and can help in combating mental health issues.

Guess what? Certain types of physical activity have been linked with greater psychosocial health benefits.

A recent systematic review (a study that summarizes all of the available evidence on a topic) found that adults who took part in sports showed improved well-being, reduced levels of stress, and improved social functioning, compared to people who were inactive or active in other ways, like walking or active transportation.

The authors argued that belonging to a sports club or group, regardless of whether its team (e.g. soccer, softball, etc.) or individual sport (e.g. tennis, golf), can lead to improved health benefits because of the social nature of sports – feeling an increased sense of community, bonding, and self-esteem. But the authors emphasized that people should choose to do the type of physical activity they enjoy and suit their skills. Motivation-based research supports this, as people are more likely to meet the physical activity guidelines if they do activities they enjoy, rather than activities they feel they ought to do.

Activity loves company

If you enjoyed sports when you were young (high school sports, intramurals etc.), chances are you still will. I played a lot of sports in my youth, and I miss it! In fact, writing this blog post motivated me to search for sports leagues in my own community. Find your local YMCA here.

If you weren’t into sports when you were young, you may feel differently now, as there is something satisfying about learning a new skill. If you’ve always wanted to take up a sport like golf, tennis, or ultimate frisbee, look for a beginner league. Individual sports can be social when you join a club and see the same people each week. You’ll also meet new people and may find some great exercise buddies. These positive experiences will not only have physical benefits but mental health benefits as well.

With the beautiful summer weather and longer days, why not look into joining a sports league or club for a different type of physical activity? You might see improvements in your social skills, well-being and not to mention physical health.

Below are various team and individual sports typically offered at local community centers and sports clubs. Team sports increase social interaction, teamwork skills and overall wellness in general; all of which lead to improved self-confidence and mental health. While individual sports may not have the social connectedness aspect of team sports, they are still heavily linked to improved physical fitness and a decrease in mental illness. Many are non-competitive and require no experience to take part. If you don’t have a team organized, you can often sign up as an individual and be paired up with others. 

Being part of a team and sports participation as a whole can lead to better mental health through a feeling of belonging and social support among other benefits of sports.

Team SportsIndividual Sports
Bike poloAxe throwing
Slo-pitch softballBadminton
Dragon boatGolf
Beach or grass volleyballTennis
Ultimate frisbeeKayaking
Ball hockeyRunning
CricketLawn bowling
Flag footballStand up paddle boarding (SUP)
Touch rugbyMartial arts

Join the conversation: What are the different ways that you choose to stay active during the Summer months?

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