Mental Health and Sports: Just what the Dr. ordered

Posted on May 9, 2023

Playing sports is more than fun.  It is also good for you!

Sports have many positive effects on mental health.  They can reduce stress, depression and cognitive disorders, and improve mood, concentration and social skills.   Sports do this by stimulating the brains chemicals that regulate emotions, attention, and motivation, and by providing a distraction from negative thoughts.  Regular physical activity has been shown to have up to a 30 percent lower risk of depression.  Additionally, exercise can help lower anxiety, and reduce the risk of illness and increase energy levels.

The optimal amount of exercise for reducing mental burden is 2-6 hours per week.  Participating in a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise for 30 minutes or longer at least three times a week can improve mental abilities, including critical thinking, learning and using good judgment.   Studies have shown that 20-30 minutes of exercise each day can make people feel calmer.

Playing team sports can have many benefits for mental health. It can help you develop social skills and build relationships with others. It can also help you develop teamwork and leadership skills. Team sports can provide a sense of belonging and community.  Playing sports is also associated with lower rates of stress, anxiety, depression and suicidal behavior.  Participation in team sports reduces the risk of teen substance abuse and other reckless behaviors.  Team sports enhance resilience, empathy, confidence and empowerment.  There are many sports that can help with mental health such as basketball, baseball and soccer.

Playing solo sports can have many benefits for mental health. It can help you focus on your own goals and progress, which can lead to a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence. It can also help you develop discipline and self-motivation. Running, for example, has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.  Other solo sports that benefit mental health are swimming, kayaking, jogging and walking.

Lace up your sneakers and get moving!

Learn more about improving your mental health through sports:

How Sports Can Help Reduce Stress and Ease Depression (

Physical Activity Is Good for the Mind and the Body – News & Events |

How Sports Can Help You Deal With Your Mental Health Problems | Psychreg

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