The influence of physical activity on health apparently is a debatable issue, as it can be positive or negative, depending on how appropriately an individual does sports. This regards not solely the bodily aspect but the mental as well since these two components of well-being are intertwined. Although the investigations on the correlation between sports and mental health are relatively recent and still insufficient, they have revealed two main parallel tendencies. In one respect, the lifestyle of an athlete may cause and/or aggravate psychological problems, but on condition of sufficient awareness, physical training is beneficial for the human psyche.
Involvement in physical activity on a constant basis presupposes stress factors that can cause an unwanted psychological response. Even amateurs can probably experience injuries and burnout, which frequently leads to anxiety or depression. Regarding professional athletes, their “unique stressors” also include living away from home and the frustration that derives from losses (Sebbens et al., 2016, p. 1). The severity of the pressure apparently grows together with the level of competition. As a result, up to half of the top sportspeople show the symptoms of mental health abnormalities.
The actual rates, however, may be higher, considering the scarcity of systematic research on the topic. The key reason presumably is that sportspeople have an inclination to perceive help-seeking as weakness, hence not report their problems (Sebbens et al., 2016). Meanwhile, without the appropriate medical aid, the conditions worsen, catalyzing the development and increasing the severity of anxieties and depressions. In addition, eating disorders are at least three times more common in elite athletes than in the general population (“Benefits of sports,” 2020, para. 18). Those derive presumably from the need for fitting the weight class or maintaining a proper bodily constitution. More thorough and better-structured research probably would reveal other serious problems.
Minimization of the Risk Factors
The above aspects of how sport can influence the human psyche are possible to smooth in case all of the participants target at this and collaborate. Notably, it may be reasonable to develop a comprehensive framework for monitoring psychological and psychical well-being with a consideration of such factors as substance use, experience, coping skills, and others. This actually should become a new sporting environment; focusing on single individuals would be considerably less effective due to their exposure to the general climate in the industry. In addition, both coaches and athletes need to update their mental health literacy regularly, which requires designing appropriate educational programs (Purcell et al., 2019). Such an approach allows for both prevention and timely intervention, hence reducing the frequency as well as the severity of mental disorders in sportspeople.
Notwithstanding the stress-related issues, physical activity can favor the development of the personality, hence improve the general mental well-being. Thus, Mouloud and Elkader (2016) highlight that sports provide broad opportunities for socialization and, consequently, “positive emotional experience” (p. 41). Another frequent effect is stimulating the sense of self-importance through achievements. Therefore, regular attendance of physical education institutions promotes the formation of social skills as well an adequate self-esteem, which is essential for overcoming mild anxiety.
In addition to the above, doing sports regularly contributes to cognitive development or prevention of impairments, depending on the person’s age. Thus, athletics improve thinking in children and teenagers as well as maintain it “sharp” in the elderly (“Benefits of physical activity,” 2021, para. 7). In this context, team sports are more effective than individual ones, presumably due to interacting with the other that prevents social skills, hence the associated cognitive abilities from degradation. Competition is another factor, as it boosts enthusiasm and consequently makes enjoyment prevalent over stress (“Benefits of sports,” 2020). Simply stated, physical activity is useful for mental health on the condition that its level and type meet the needs of a particular individual that, in turn, depends on several factors, such as age.
Another reason why team sports are especially favorable is their presumable ability to help combat addictions. Notably, Norwegian researchers found that the adults who played soccer or similar games as teenagers are less likely to smoke both cigarettes and marijuana. Internet addiction is in the list as well, according to South Korean investigators (“Benefits of sports,” 2020). This is another way in which an appropriate choice and organization of physical activity can benefit psychical well-being.
Sports can have both negative and positive influence on mental health. The former emerges from the stressors, such as injuries, burnout, or disappointment with improper results that can cause anxiety or even depression. Besides, sportspeople are frequently bound to control their diet thoroughly, which may lead to eating disorders. By contrast, on condition of sufficient mental health literacy, a friendly environment, and an appropriate organization of the activities, sport is beneficial. Specifically, it allows for socialization and positive emotions; this may help to overcome addictions, smooth anxiety disorders, and develop or maintain cognitive skills. Team activities are apparently more effective in these terms as compared to individual.
Benefits of sports for mental health. (2020). WebMD. Web.
Benefits of physical activity. (2021, April 5). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web.
Mouloud, K., & Elkader, B. A. (2016). Sport and mental health level among university students. Physical Education of Students, 3, 39-42.
Purcell, R., Gwyther, K., & Rice, S, M. (2019). Mental health in elite athletes: Increased awareness requires an early intervention framework to respond to athlete needs. Sports Medicine – Open, 5(46). Web.
Sebbens, J., Hassmen, P., Crisp, D., & Wensley, K. (2016). Mental health in sport (MHS): Improving the early intervention knowledge and confidence of elite sport staff. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(911). Web.