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5 Ways Sports Help Teenagers’ Mental Health

basketball team stacking hands

Sports can boost not only physical health but mental health as well. Playing sports can reduce stress, cultivate positive relationships with peers, and promote healthy habits. 

Sports can be especially important for teenagers. Most teens experience stress on a daily basis due to school and feel pressure to perform in certain ways. 

Sports can help teenagers to handle some of that stress alongside peers who tend to be in similar situations. Hence, sports can act as a way to improve fitness while forming a positive social environment. 

Playing sports can cultivate significantly better mental health among teens. Here are some of the ways sports can help teenagers’ mental health: 

1. Decreasing Stress and Preventing Depression 

Some of the most common reasons people seek out therapy is for anxiety or depression. While therapy is very important in helping those who experience various mental illnesses as well as anyone struggling with their mental health, exercise can also be effective in helping to treat symptoms of depression and reducing stress. 

The main reason for this is because exercise leads to the production of endorphins that lead to a calmer feeling after playing a sport. Exercise can also decrease levels of cortisol and adrenaline in our bodies, both of which are stress hormones. Healthy bodies can make you feel energetic and positive, influencing moods and attitudes. 

2. Socialization

Sports are often practiced and played as a team. Being a part of a group that shares a common interest while working hard toward goals together can cultivate positive emotions. 

Furthermore, the social bonds that are created through sports are offline and face-to-face, which some children might find difficult to cultivate if their main social interactions are on their phones. Your children can also learn the importance of teamwork and being supportive of peers as part of a team. If a teen is experiencing social anxiety, playing a sport in a supportive team environment can help relieve some of their anxieties. 

3. Building Discipline and Dedication

The increasing amount of content on the Internet and the ease of access to social media apps have made it easier than ever for teens to get distracted or lose focus on their personal goals. Sports can help develop self-discipline and dedication towards one’s goals. 

Doing well at a sport means following a consistent schedule and managing your time. These are all good habits that, once instilled, will benefit teens in other avenues of life. Lessons learned from both winning and losing can be applied to various situations your teen will experience.

4. Improved Self-Image

Social media can lead to many adverse effects for teens, from distractions to damaging self-image. Constantly being bombarded with images of the media’s unhealthy body standards, rigid standards of success, and seemingly perfect parts of other people’s lives can make teens develop a negative self-image. Seeing what one’s body can achieve can help a person to think of the advantages of being strong and capable, rather than staying super skinny, having pumped-up muscles, or other superficial characteristics that might overshadow physical health.

Playing a sport can help with self-image, as sports help build confidence and character. Working hard and achieving goals can help a teen feel confident in their abilities and strength. Sports can make teens feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves to which they are positively contributing. 

5. Shaping Identity 

Due to the social nature of sports, teens can begin to form strong social identities. Being a part of a team can build a sense of belonging and understanding of who they want to be. 

Being an athlete can also help teens differentiate themselves from their peers. Sports tend to integrate into the daily life of most athletes and become a part of who they are. It is important for young people to begin creating a strong sense of identity, both individually and within group settings, and this could contribute to improved mental health over time.  

Participating in a sport is typically highly beneficial for teens in the short and long term. Sports can teach valuable lessons about team efforts, success, failure, discipline, and self-image. The physical exercise that comes with most sports can sometimes help treat certain symptoms of mental illnesses like anxiety or depression. It is important for teens to feel emboldened through a strong sense of personal identity, which sports can help create. The positive effects to mental health through playing sports can last throughout the teen years, all the way into adulthood. 

Marie MigelAbout the Author:
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.


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