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Sporty, healthy minds

At Ascham we hold the firm belief that sporty, healthy bodies contribute to fostering healthy, happy minds. Our Sports Administrator, Mr Callum Burden, shines a light on the benefits of participation in sport, including team sports and its impact on metal health.

At times it is easy to jump on a bandwagon, a catchy slogan, an unbelievable fact shared on social media, something that sounds so good that you are desperate for it to be true. When it comes to discussing the benefits of physical activity the hype is worth listening to.

Naturally, a first instinct when assessing the benefits of sport is to consider the physical health benefits. Whilst this is undoubtedly true, it is becoming more apparent that there are tangible links between sport and mental wellbeing. Sports play a positive role in supporting youth development, leading to improved academic achievement, fewer behavioural problems, better psychosocial health, and more. Added to this, inactivity can be both a symptom of, and contributor to, poor mental health.

Furthermore, mental wellbeing increases again when people participate in team sport. Researchers found that females who participate in team sports enjoy better mental health and life satisfaction than females who exercise at a gym or walk alone, even though there were no differences in physical health between the groups. Playing in a team also increases the likelihood of maintaining physical activity.

Team sports are said to bolster the five Cs: competence, confidence, connections, character and caring. At the heart of this is self-esteem—an increased sense of self as a result of better social interactions, stronger relationships and higher academic performance.

At Ascham, sport is not mandatory. Studies suggest we’re more likely to experience mental health benefits from exercise if the environment makes us feel that we have more choice and control, we feel more capable or likely to succeed, and when we have stronger connections to others. By giving students the choice to play the sports that are important to them, and by grading them based on ability, we are enabling them to have more autonomous motivation. This means they can be involved with sport because they want to be and feel confident in what they are doing.

When discussing examinations and students’ performance, in depth research has shown that, overall, taking part in sport has a significant positive impact. Students are happier, psychologically healthier, less anxious and more resilient and robust. Furthermore, there is no evidence that people who continue their involvement in sport during exam periods get poorer results.

Despite the uncertain times we are currently living in, exercise is still a fantastic addition to your daily life. Even with social distancing, walking, jogging or biking outdoors are viable options for exercise. There are also lots of apps or videos online that allow you to get your exercise fix at home.



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