Sports can be described as any form of competitive physical activity or game which aims to improve physical skills along with providing enjoyment.
The word 'Sports' is derived from an old French word which means' leisure' which means anything that can be amusing or entertaining or is fun. There are certain elements that a sport should contain- an element of competition, should not harm any creature, not rely on equipment provided by a single supplier and shouldn't rely on 'luck' element specifically designed into the sport.
There is a repertoire of sports ranging from cricket, football, hockey to chess and ice dancing. They all provide the spectators with entertainment and excitement. The sports industry is estimated to be around US$500 billion. But sports is not just about professional games but also holds a lot of significance as an important development factor in the life of an individual.
We all know about the physical benefits of playing sports, but there are several other advantages which you will come to know in this post.
If you have the following questions in your mind then, you are reading the right article.
- What are the benefits of sports?
- Importance of sports and games
- Mental Benefits of sports
- What is the advantage of playing?
- How does sports benefit your health?
- Social Benefits of Sports
As many scientific studies claim, sports or other such physical activities can lead to better physical growth and development and can help to keep certain diseases away. According to an article issued by National Academy of Sciences, physical activities can improve various aspects of health and fitness like aerobic capacity (maximum amount of oxygen body can use), muscle development, bone strength, flexibility, insulin sensitivity (usage of glucose by cells) and lipid profiles.
A proper physical education program for children can have a significant impact on their life. Development of what is called fundamental motor patterns occurs at the age of 1 to 7 and includes movements like running, leaping, skipping, throwing etc. With proper instructions and practice, it can enhance such motor development.
Sports can help in muscle development and burning calories and can lower the occurrence of diabetes and high blood pressure. It can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis, obesity and metabolic syndrome. For example, sports which include vertical jumping leads to bone development due to ground reaction forces and can contribute to lower fracture risk. Sports can lead to prevention of chronic diseases.
Exercising regularly can also lead to better heart and pulmonary function.
Physically Active Adulthood
Learning to play sports as a child can in turn, make you a more active adult in future. There is a lot of evidence that shows that people who feel competent in sports and have developed skills as a child are more likely to indulge in physical activity even when they grow up. It is due to the psychosocial effects caused by the programming of structured physical activities designed to target such faculties. And these psychosocial outcomes lead to an increased level of physical activity in both the short and long term.
Better Mental Health
Teen sports has been linked to better mental health in later years. Researchers tracked participants three years after their graduation and questioned them on self-assessment of depression, stress and mental health. They observed that youth who played sports in school scored better in all three areas.
According to Catherine Sabiston, PhD, of the University of Toronto, sports that require to work with the team involves group goals, social support and sense of connection which can lead to the development of coping strategies which are beneficial for long-term mental health.
Sports can lead to an increase in 'happy hormones' and stress hormone cortisol level goes down. Hence, it seems to have a significant effect on tackling anxieties and depression. When paired with antidepressants, the treatment has shown to be very effective.
A study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport also states that sports can perform better in trying to lessen stress in adults than other physical activities.
Better Academic Performance
According to another study titled, 'Physical Activity, Fitness, and Physical Education: Effects on Academic Performance', recess and physical education classes offering various sports may lead to better academic performance. More physical activity in the classroom can facilitate the same.
Studies show the connection of areas like Mathematics and reading to physical activity as these topics depend on the efficient and effective function which is linked to sports and other physical activities.
Sports and other aerobic fitness can improve basic cognitive functions which can help in improving attention and memory and thus, facilitate better learning. It also offers a break from mental exhaustion.
Improved Social Health & Higher Values
Sports is not just about the development of physical skills, it also aspires to instil the players with sportsmanship. It promotes teamwork and friendliness, along with a winning attitude. It prepares the person for tough competition but also encourages respect and compassion for not just teammates, but everyone. It leads to the inculcation of values of integrity, teamwork, leadership and fair play. It can also teach values of loyalty, commitment and perseverance, which are important for overall success in life.
Sports as a Career
Sports can also offer a legit career option with a substantial livelihood. According to different statistics, billions of people watch some kind of sports, the maximum being soccer fans followed by cricket. Hence, sports serve as a lucrative business encouraging a lot of athletes and sportspeople, choosing it as a career.
Sports is powerful as it directly calls to our emotions, excitement and sense of victory. Thousands flock to stadiums to witness the nail-biting matches. This serves as the primary source of income for sportsmen. Merchandising and advertising being the second and third source.
It has also proved to be a good launching platform into other careers like acting and politics, e.g. Dwayne Johnson, Vinnie Jones, Gautam Gambhir, Arnold Schwarzenegger etc.
It can also be an alternative for those youngsters who do not have either academic inclination or resources to gain education and hence, can't fare well in academics and related career.
Sports curbs Violence and Addiction
Sports is also being used for rehabilitation.
Extreme sports like mountain climbing and white water rafting can give a healthy dose of self-reliance, adventure and risk and prevent the person seeking the same from drugs. At the same time, individual sports like archery helps build self-discipline.
In 2016, UNODC and Government of the Federal District of Brasilia signed an agreement to use sports to curb drug abuse and crime. It was an effort to develop respect and reach out to groups that have been marginalized. It aims to teach life skills to at-risk youth and prevent the development of anti-social behaviour.
Ms Barros, an athlete and Olympic volleyball medallist who was raised in a poor community, for her, sports was a tool for personal transformation. She says, it teaches us to live with differences, value others and deal with negative emotions like frustration.
Sports is not just leisure but can have a significant impact on one's life. From physical, mental to social effects, sports can help raise our standard of living.
Like anything else, sports too has a dark side going beyond an injury or a fracture. There have been stories of intense pressure, eating disorders, doping etc. when it comes to professional sports.
Hence, athletes need to look out for such issues and discourage it. Sound physical education curricula based on an understanding of growth patterns and developmental stages should be introduced into schools. There should be a quality monitoring system to evaluate these activities. And we should try to introduce at least one sport into our lifestyle to lead a more physically and mentally sound life.
Co-author: Shreya Arya
A digital marketing enthusiast with experience in HR and hospital management, Shreya has wide interests ranging from philosophy, psychology to latest trends in automation. She is also a freelance content writer and loves lending beautiful words to ideas and feelings.