Dr Eddie Murphy column: The amazing power of sports

Advice column with Operation Transformation psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy

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Dr Eddie Murphy column: The amazing power of sports

File picture of the start of the Kildare Sports Partnership 5k setting off from Aras Chill Dara, Naas, last April. Picture: Tony Keane

The summer is here in earnest. The GAA championship season is heating up. The World Cup from Russia, with its extravaganza of colour, skill and passion, is on TV every day.

Tens of thousands of children up and down the country are playing sports. Their parents are on the sidelines offering encouragement. What is it about sports? Does the phrase ‘in sport and out of trouble’ make sense?

Let’s look at the social, health and psychological benefits of sport and exercise.

READ ALSO: World Cup: the language of the beautiful game unites us all

Top Five Social Benefits

1. Make new friends

Sport allows the individual to make new friends. This is the most obvious social benefits that you will get from playing sports. Doing exercise will boost your opportunity to meet new people.

2. Learn to work as a team and improved belonging

Many sports promote team work. Individual brilliance, while welcomed still, needs to fit within a team structure. Learning team skills is crucial to later on working within team structures.

3. Learning to win, lose and respect others

Doing various exercises that require you to build a team with your friends will be perfect practice to learn how to respect each other and the opposition. Learning to live the motto ‘win with grace, lose with dignity’ is crucial as losses, wins and doing your best are part of life’s lessons.

4. Better communications skills

Maybe you’re wondering what communication skill has to do with exercises. It turns out that exercises improve your communication skills in your everyday life.

5. Persistence, perseverance and dedication

Doing and sticking at exercise on a regular basis increases your dedication to everything that you do in your life. There is no doubt that, in order to do exercises, on a regular basis, you need a strong commitment, as well as dedication.

People with low commitment would give up easily when they found that their exercise becomes exhausting. But, whenever you keep pushing to do various exercises, then there is no doubt that you will learn how to make a commitment and how to overcome the laziness. As a bonus, you will have a healthy body and mind too.

Top Five Health Benefits

1. Heart health

Regular exercise improves your heart health. It acts as a preventative from health conditions associated with high blood pressure such as stroke and heart failure.

2. Helps maintains body weight

Exercise and sport will maintain your overall body weight. Everybody knows that fitness is one of the best way to prevent excess weight gain, or, if you want, to lose some body weight. This is because whenever you’re doing fitness, you will burn a lot of calories.

3. It is a stress buster and mood improver

Being involved in sport will actively reduce your stress levels and improve your mood. Exercise stimulates the release of various ‘happy hormones’, ie, chemical compounds in your brain. Thus, they will make you happier and improve your overall mood.

4. Boost your energy

There is no surprise that fitness would also improve the overall energy in your body.

This is because, whenever you’re doing fitness-wise, your muscle strength would be improved. Thus, it will improve your endurance too.

5. Better sleep quality

If you have a problem associated with your sleep quality, or you often have insomnia at night, then doing exercise can play a major role in alleviating those problems. This is because fitness improves your sleep quality. So, according to many studies, doing fitness would strengthen your circadian rhythms. These circadian rhythms would keep your eyes bright during the day and will put your eyes to sleep during the night. Thus, exercise will improve the quality of your sleep.

Top Five Psychological Benefits

1. Sport improves your brain health

Increasingly, research is showing that exercise can play a role in brain health, reducing the onset of dementia and improving memory.

2. Increased self-esteem and confidence

The more you’re doing fitness-wise, the better confidence that you have in yourself.Many research studies have shown that doing any physical activity increases your confidence and self-esteem.

3. Sport builds resilience

This is a significant benefit. Life doesn’t always run smooth and many times we are confronted by frustration and failure. By learning self-discipline and how to cope with failure, this is a true life skill.

4. Sport allows us to play for all of our life

Sport allows our inner child to come out to play. It can assist adults as an appropriate outlet for aggressive and competitive impulses. It can help people develop a sense of value with regards to accomplishment.

5. It fulfils the true expression of self

It can facilitate expression of the self by allowing the person to reach their peak and enter into a state of flow. Sport for many is about something that bigger than them, it gives their life meaning and engagement.

Nelson Madela said in 2000: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where there was only despair.” That is the power of sport.