Engaging in sports regularly as a form of exercise can be beneficial on a variety of levels for people of all ages and abilities. You don’t necessarily have to be in peak physical condition to play a certain sport, but you should know what your bodys limits are and be sure that you do not exceed them, at least in the initial stages. Doing so might lead to exhaustion or acute fatigue resulting in muscle pain, injuries and most importantly, loss of motivation to continue with the activity. That is best avoided by having an educated expert who guides and oversees the process. Top level competitive sports, where pushing your limits is a must if you want to succed, is an entirely different story.
Consistency is also key in the process of exercise, because the benefits of your last workout start to dissipate if you don’t build on them with another session. It is also harder to motivate yourself when the gap between the workouts is longer.
Some students might be asking themselves: „How exactly does sport – exercise? make me a better student?“ To answer that question we can divide the benefits of regular exercise into three categories.
1. Physical health benefits
Physical health is the basis for every human activity. Whether it is jumping out of an aeroplane with a parachute, writing a philosophy essay or just enjoying the company of your friends, it is all easier and feels better if your body is working at its full potentital. Exercising regularly has a large number of positive effects on your physical health. It improves the functioning of your cardiovascular system by stregthening or even enlarging the heart muscle and increasing the blood flow by up to as much as 50%. The side effect of that is that more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your muscles and organs, which helps them function more efficiently, and thereby raising your energy level. It lowers the level of low density lipoprotein which is popularly konwn as „bad cholesterol“ that can clog your arteries, causing high blood pressure and even lead to a heart attack or a stroke. Regular excersie also boosts the immune system by flushing out the bacteria from the lungs and airways, increasing the production of white blood cells and causing changes in your antibodies. Some other important physical health benefits are the prevention and control of diabetes, weight management, bone strengthening and increased muscle tonus.
2.Mental health benefits
A direct side effect of the physiological changes in our body that occur when involved in a regular physical activity is better/improved mental health. When we exercise, our body increases the production of endorphins, the so called „feel-good neurotransmiters“ and neuropinephrine, a neurotransmiter that may directly improve our mood. This is very helpfull for people battling high levels of stress, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD and depression. A study published in the „Archives of internal medicine“ in 1999, in which 156 people, unneccssasary? People sort of implies male/female…both men and women diagnosed with depression, were seperated into three groups for a period of 16 weeks. The first group took an antidepressant called „Zoloft“, the second group participated in a regular aerobic exercise program and the third group took both the drug and participated in the exercise programme. The results at the end of the 16-week study revealed that all three groups tested pretty much the same. 60-70% of the people in all groups could no longer be diagnosed with major depression. However, a follow-up study had shown that the people that resumed a regular physical activity after the original study were less likely to relapse back into depression. So we can say exercise is a natural antidepressant with longer lasting effect and without the side effects that can come from medication. It can also help prevent cognitive decline, postpones and slows the progress of diseases such as Parkinsons and Alzheimers, improves self confidence and increases creativity.
3.Social and academic benefits
A study done by the University of Kansas in 2012 shows not only that 97% of student athletes finish high school, which is 10% more than the general population, but they also have a higher grade average. There can be numerous sport related reasons for those numbers. Participating in sports increases blood flow to the brain, which can result in better concentration and cognitive ability.
Everybody’s mind starts to wander after a long study session. This is why most people take study breaks. Some light sports activity is perfect to take your mind of the subject of your study, wake up your body and release stress. After excersing, our body goes in to a state of short term relaxation and our creativty and concetration are enhanced. Such an active break can also help in looking at problems and the study material from another angle.
The skills that student athletes gain through training can be transferd to their academic challanges. Time management is one of the key skills required to be a good student. If you have ever trained for a sport, you probably will have already been required to manage your time in order fit in all those training sessions with your daily routine.
In most sports, everything moves quickly, so decisive action and problem solving are more developed in athletes. These are usefull skills that can be transfered into the classroom.
In sports, much like in real life, you can’t win everytime. Same goes for passing every exam at the first try, and getting a good grade on every project or paper. Knowing how to deal with losing a football game, fencing match or coming in last in a hundred-metre dash by learning from your mistakes, instead of being discouraged or blaming others, is a skill that can be transfered to getting a bad grade or failing an exam. Dealing with failure and dissapointment in sports teaches us perseverance and self critical thinking.
From a social standpoint, sports bring people together and create a sense of community. They also teach us „soft skills“, such as communication and temwork.