Sport to Support Mental Health

When children and teens play sport, they experience a whole host of positive benefits not only in their physical wellness, but also their mental health. Physical activity that is moderate to vigorous, like running, going swimming or shooting baskets, releases endorphins, norepinephrine and lowers cortisol which means less stress and improved mood.

Numerous recent studies have shown that children and teens who are involved in sports have considerably higher levels of self-esteem, higher life satisfaction, greater protective benefit against depression, and a more positive body image. Sport programs can create a supportive and growth-inducing environment where children and teens are part of a community; feeling supported by their mates, coaches and involved parents.

Strong and healthy relationships are at the core of children and teens’ needs to flourish, both now and throughout their life. Sport is a vehicle to fostering these bonds through face to face interactions and the positive and challenging experiences that teammates share. Strong friendships that can last a lifetime are often made through sports teams due to the aligning of children with similar interests.

Taking a wicket in cricket, scoring a goal in netball or their team winning a game can elevate confidence and self-efficacy. Playing sport fosters resilience, confidence, work ethic and dedication. Sport builds character through needing hard work to succeed and presenting challenges to be taken – with the rewards reaped boosting confidence and establishing lifelong patterns of success in other areas. Experiencing both winning and losing, things not always going to ‘plan’, and that many mistakes will be made, children and teens learn resilience when difficulties come. This resilience is paramount to mental health and will positively impact lifelong wellbeing.

Playing sport can give teens a positive view of their body and what it allows them to achieve. Young people are bombarded by messages telling them what their body should look like. When respect for the body is formed and what it can do is appreciated, teens can develop healthier attitudes toward their own body.

For more information about finding a sports team for your daughter or son, ask our friendly PE staff, chat to other parents or have a look at the Mandurah Sport and Recreation Club Contacts.

Written by Nicolette Diamanti, Physical and Health Education Teacher

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