Why do sport?

Examining the psychological benefits of exercise

In any school environment, it is important that students take time away from their hectic schedules to relax and recuperate. Recent studies show that exercise is a key part of this process; not just because it improves physical health, but also because it is highly beneficial for the mind. It is important to understand that good health doesn't merely refer to a lack of illness, but also to complete mental, physical and social wellbeing. 

Research suggests that by taking part in regular physical activity, teenagers are less likely to suffer from stress and/or depression. Other psychological benefits include: improved concentration, higher levels of self-confidence and improved sleep quality. The boost in self-esteem is due to the fact that sport improves your strengths, skills and stamina whilst also giving you a sense of mastery and control. By achieving goals and exceeding your expectations, you can help to develop and improve your own perceptions of yourself.

Sport is one of the few activities out there that enables you to put all thoughts and problems aside in order to simply focus on the present. This is a critical skill in life that everybody needs to have because there are times, such as during exam periods, when a time-out session can be highly beneficial. Your work productivity level will undoubtedly be higher if you have taken the time to exercise and refresh your mind.

I therefore think it is really important that all students seize the opportunity to do sport. With campaigns such as Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ in full swing at the moment, I think there is no better time for teenagers to get involved. It’s not about looking the best or even being the best; it’s about improving your own wellbeing and happiness. Finally, don't think this necessarily requires you to do a 5k run every week either; it can be anything from a session in the gym, to football, to lacrosse, to swimming. There is a wealth of activities on offer at St Paul’s so there is no reason not to find something you enjoy!

Issy Jones VII