Is playing sports as good for us as we make it out to be, or is it just a fun and interesting way to pass time? So, here is what science has to say.
Exercise benefits the body and mind
First, it is well accepted that exercise is good for our minds and bodies. Exercising, especially when we are young, has all sorts of health benefits. When we exercise, our brains release a number of hormones including endorphins – natural hormones that control pain and pleasure responses and can lead to feelings of euphoria. Increased endorphins and consistent physical activity can sharpen your focus and improve your mood and memory.
Individual vs. team sports
But does that mean that we get just as much benefit from going to the gym five days a week as we would from joining a team and competing? Well, here is when it gets interesting.
If you can find a sport and a team that you like, studies show that there are all sorts of benefits that go beyond the physical and mental benefits of exercising on your own.
There are important short- and long-term psychological benefits. Some come from the communal experience of being in a team – for example learning to trust and depend on others, to give and accept help and to work together towards a common goal.
In addition, being in a team and doing something fun can also make it easier to establish a regular habit of taking exercise.
Boost your confidence
Exercise in school sports has been shown to reduce the risk of suffering from depression. Meanwhile your self-esteem and confidence can get a big boost. There are several reasons for this, and one is found in training. Working out, especially with a coach, reinforces a growth mindset that is useful in all walks of life.
Even if I can’t do something today, I can improve myself through practice and achieve it eventually.
Then, there is learning through failure – one of the most transformative long-term benefits. The experience of coming to terms with defeat can build the resilience and self-awareness necessary to manage academic, social and physical hurdles. Guess what? Many business schools ask during admissions interviews or in the admissions essays about how you dealt with failures and what you learned from them.
Many of these skills acquired through playing sports have a positive impact on your academic and professional success. Whether you are now preparing for an admission test, studying in a business school or standing at a career crossroads, playing sports can clear your mind and give you the confidence to move ahead. Even more so if you enjoy being in a team.