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We all know that playing sports can improve physical health, but regular athletics can also have a significant, positive effect on mental health.

Many children and adults become involved in amateur or professional sports because they enjoy the competition and camaraderie or because they find it entertaining. But according researchers ,playing sports also improves psychosocial and personal development and reduces symptoms of mental illness such as depression and anxiety.

Here are five ways that playing team sports in particular can improve mental health.

  1. It reduces dependence on substances. Playing competitive team sports provides a natural high as adrenaline and endorphins flood the system.
    This, combined with the rigorous physical activity, can lead to reduced consumption of alcohol and other substances.
  2. It reduces loneliness. Feelings of loneliness are linked to mental health disorders such as depression. By being part of a team, athletes can feel a part of something bigger
    and form deep bonds and connections with their teammates.
  3. It improves self-confidence. Playing sports has been shown to increase confidence, self-esteem and self-awareness. This can have a positive impact on mental health and boost levels of serotonin in the system.
  4. It reduces depression. A study of nearly 10,000 individuals showed that those involved in team sports as children reported better mental health as adults as well as reduced symptoms of depression.
  5. It improves sleep. Most Americans are chronically sleep deprived, which can lead to a range of physical and mental health issues. The mental and physical energy exerted through competitive team sports generally leads to a better night’s rest, which contributes to a positive mental health cycle.