Engaging in low-impact physical activities, such as walking, yoga, or swimming, can provide significant mental health benefits for individuals of all ages, including senior office workers.
If you suffer from a monotonous job, doing sport can help you reduce stress and anxiety levels, improve your brain’s cognitive function, increase creativity and divergent thinking, or generate multiple solutions to a problem.
A study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that engaging in regular physical activity helps grow creativity and divergent thinking in young adults.
In other words, participating in activities like tai chi or online tennis bets & odds, incorporating mindfulness and relaxation techniques, improves mood and increases happiness.
Sports can also negatively affect mental health, particularly when athletes experience injury, burnout, or intense pressure to perform. On the other hand, overtraining and intense pressure to perform can lead to burnout, which can cause exhaustion, decreased motivation, and an eating disorder.
Thanks to this guide, you explore how physical activity could influence our mental health positively and negatively.
Sports and Mental Health Pro’s
1. Reduced Risk of Cognitive Decline
Regular physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults. For example, a study published in the journal JAMA Neurology found that people over 45 who engaged in regular physical activity had a lower risk of developing dementia than those who were sedentary.
2. Improved Mood and Shift Focus Away from Stressors
Engaging in physical activity and sports can lead to the release of endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. These hormones improve mood and promote feelings of pleasure and happiness. They also help to distract from negative thoughts and emotions.
Physical activity can shift focus away from stressors and promote a positive mindset. It can help you feel more present and less preoccupied with worries or concerns.
By focusing on the physical demands of the activity, such as your breathing or movements, you can shift your attention away from negative thoughts.
3. Increased Creativity
Playing sports can encourage experimentation and risk-taking as individuals try new techniques or strategies. This willingness to experiment can lead to new and innovative ideas.
A study published in the Journal of Personality found that individuals who engaged in regular exercise had higher levels of divergent thinking, a key component of creativity. The study suggests that exercise can promote more flexible and open-minded thinking.
Sports and Mental Health Cons
While engaging in sports and physical activity can benefit overall health, it’s essential to consider the potential cons for those who work in IT or have sedentary jobs that require sitting for extended periods. Here are some potential cons:
1. Overuse Injuries
Certain sports or physical activities may stress joints and muscles strained from sitting at a desk all day. It can increase the risk of overuse injuries, such as tendinitis or muscle strains.
2. Time Constraints
Many people have demanding work schedules, family commitments, and other responsibilities that can make finding time for sports and physical activity challenging.
Additionally, some sports require a significant time commitment. For example, team sports may require several hours of practice and game time each week, which can be challenging to fit into a busy schedule.
Other sports, such as endurance events like marathons or triathlons, may require months of training and preparation.
Finally, some people may perceive sports and physical activity as low priorities and may not prioritise them accordingly. It can lead to time constraints as other activities take precedence.
3. Social Isolation
For those who work long hours, engaging in physical activity may mean sacrificing socialising with coworkers or friends, leading to social isolation and decreased mental well-being.
If an individual does not have social support or a social network to engage in physical activity, they may feel isolated and disconnected from others. Similarly, if a team is overly competitive or unsupportive, it may create a hostile social environment.
5 Easy Tips on How to Train to Improve Mental Condition
Below you can find our four simple tips for getting started with physical activity to improve your mental health:
- Start Small: Begin with small, achievable goals. For example, start with a 10-minute walk around the block or a beginner yoga class.
- Make a Plan: Schedule physical activity into your daily routine, and plan how you will achieve your goals. Write down your plan and hold yourself accountable.
- Incorporate Variety: Mix your physical activities to keep things interesting and prevent boredom. Try new activities or join a fitness class to keep your routine fresh.
- Prioritize Recovery: Prioritize recovery by getting enough rest, hydrating correctly, and incorporating rest days into your workout schedule.
- Seek Support: Consider finding a workout buddy or joining a fitness group to help keep you motivated and accountable.
Engaging in sports and physical activity can provide significant mental health benefits. However, it’s essential to consider the potential risks of physical activity, particularly as we age.