Can Sports Help People Experiencing Depression?

Depression is a unique experience for each person, but some things are common from person to person. One of these is a feeling of listlessness. Things that used to give you amusement and a sense of joy no longer have the same positive effect. You get more enjoyment from just lying in bed. Consequently, the amount of physical activity the person experiences drops considerably.

That is bad not only for their physical health, but also their mental well-being. When we engage in physical activity, our brains generate serotonin, the so-called “feel good” chemical. Have you finished an intense workout and felt wonderful afterward? That’s serotonin at work. However, you don’t need to take part in hardcore exercise to benefit. Even just getting out there for a few minutes each day can help.

Solitary exercise, such as walking, is fine for people with depression. However, if they feel up to it, sports can be an even greater aid. Going out for, and participating in, team sports means that the person is getting out of their home and engaging in at least moderate socialization. People with depression often isolate themselves and that defense mechanism can actually make their sadness seem worse.

If the depressed person can persuade themselves to give a sporting activity a try, they may find they rather enjoy it. Thus, they not only reap the benefits of serotonin, but also develop a sense of accomplishment and confidence. These can not only encourage them to come out again, but also perhaps try other things their sadness has caused them to shun.

Not every sport is right for everyone, of course. Thus, inevitably, some individuals with depression will try a sport and then quit. However, it is hoped that they can be encouraged to keep right on trying until they find the one that works for them.


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