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Mental Health, Team Sports, and Group Exercise

August 25th, 2017


The physical benefits associated with engaging in team sports or group exercise are commonly discussed and known. Regular sporting activity is proven to help with weight control, prevent heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and even some forms of cancer. However, many of us are unaware of the many mental health benefits that are linked with team sports or participating in-group exercise. So what are these benefits?


Sporting activities helps to relieve symptoms often associated with stress such as; insomnia and anxiety. By engaging in vigorous or competitive exercise you may burn off excess amounts of the stress hormone known as adrenaline; therefore, reducing tension and promoting relaxation. While you’re active, it is likely you will set aside your worries for that time; therefore, it’s possible when you come back to them they just might not seem as big. In addition, by committing to group exercise or by joining a team one makes time to do something for themselves, which is a form of self-care.


By becoming part of a team or engaging in a fitness class you expose yourself to interaction with others. This may bring about opportunities for new friendships or relationships, which ultimately could lead to more social interactions in the future. The bonds that can be formed are ones that may not necessarily present themselves outside of these particular situations. This may be especially beneficial for those who may be new to a city, have limited time for social interaction, or perhaps struggle with social anxieties. Increased social interaction is shown to reduce levels of stress and positively increase a person’s mood.


Participating in team sports or group exercise may increase confidence in oneself, as well as provide one with a significant sense of achievement. Feeling of value is also associated to team sport or group exercise participation. Being part of a team or a weekly exercise group may provide individuals with a sense of responsibility, pride, and accomplishment leading to an overall positive affect on self-esteem. What team sports are there? Many major cities today have recreational leagues offering the following; soccer, basketball, volleyball, football, ultimate frisbee, softball, baseball, kickball, lacrosse, or hockey. However, for some people running around with a stick, ball, bat or frisbee for an hour or two just isn’t that fun. Do not fear, as there are plenty of other group activities that you can get involved in to give you a mental boost and an exercise fix. Group exercise activities can include; cross fit, running club, yoga, dance, barre, or spin class. If you’re looking to relieve your stress, involve yourself in more social interactions, or increase your self esteem … why not join a class or try a new sport?


Stephanie Ballard, CADC, LPC - Clarity Clinic

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