Sports For the Soul - How being active improves your mental health


22 Jun
22Jun


“Remember the mind-body connection. What we do—or don't do—with our bodies influences our mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health”. 

This simple lesson is given by one of the most influential professors in the field of Positive Psychology today, Dr. Tal Ben Shahar who has dedicated his whole career to the search of happiness.

So why should every girl in the world be encouraged to be active and be introduced to sports?

There is an increased number of researchers showing that regular physical exercise is as powerful as psychiatric medicine.Those who are active are at lower risk for depression, and for cognitive decline as they age. Exercise slows down the release of stress hormones. As stress appears to increase the chance of illness, lowering stress hormones may be protective.

One interesting work is the study about the “Blue Zones” led by Dan Buettner, where researchers studied the lifestyle of  the world's healthiest people, a study that crossed cultures and nations. One of the things they all shared in common: an active lifestyle.

We can’t be more convinced about the mind body connection. Our physical  well being has an immediate impact on our mood, self esteem, creativity and as a result, happiness. 

We are living in a world that offers more commodities than ever before, we walk less, run less and in general move naturally less. Being purposely active is becoming a need more than ever before. To empower young females is to offer them the gift of physical strength that translates into a clear belief of being capable. Capable of dreaming, achieving and overcoming obstacles.

Covid19 is challenging us in many ways, as the weeks pass we are hearing more about the price it has taken on our health and most notably our mental health. Isolation, uncertainty about the future, new financial challenges are in direct correlation with stress, anxiety and depression. Many studies have shown a clear, inverse relationship between moderate exercise and infectious diseases. It enhances immune regulation. Being active and playing sports can’t be more relevant in times of pandemic, for both the body and the mind.

As a psychologist I am always excited to confirm these findings in my own life. I have a good friend that is a runner, she is not fast, or fancy but argues with me for many years that her investment in her morning runs are by far more effective than any therapy she could get.  Although I am not purporting that, in general, sports should replace therapy, the power of sport to help prevent mental health challenges has been proven by science and my own experience. For me playing sports had been the most consistent remedy against any kind of mood swing or mental challenge. Our body remembers, like any other muscle, the more you use it, the more the influence increases, and our soul remembers too.







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