We know playing sports is good for our bodies, but research has found that it keeps our minds healthy as well.
Like all exercise, playing a sport, especially when we're young, benefits our physical health. It strengthens our bones, clears out bad cholesterol, and decreases our risk of stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Exercise also improves our cognitive function. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins, which inhibit pain signals and trigger euphoria (or runner's high). Exercising also improves our mood, memory, and ability to focus.
Finding a sport you like and being on a sports team provides us with even more benefits than exercise alone. Many of these benefits come from the experience of being on a team. For instance, teammates learn to trust and depend on each other. They learn how to both accept and give help. They additionally learn how to work together towards a common goal. All of these skills are critical throughout life. Plus, social connectedness is the highest indicator of lifespan. Therefore, having these skills helps us live longer.
Participating in sports also boosts self-esteem and reinforces a growth mindset, which is the mindset in which a person understands they can improve through hard work. This mindset additionally fosters the ability to bounce back and learn from failure.
Sources: Ed-ed, Mindset Online, Health Line