October is Mental Health Month at UNSW, which makes it the perfect time to discuss the benefits of sport and active recreation for mental health. 

It is well known that there are mental health benefits to exercise - it releases chemicals in your brain, such as seratonin and endorphins that improve your mood and make it easier to deal with daily mental health challenges.

But there are additional benefits to getting involved in a team sport for your mental health. Beyond Blue provides some great information about what it is about team sport that keeps you mentally - as well as physically - healthy.

  • The social aspect that comes with being part of a team is fantastic for your wellbeing. Even if you join a team not knowing a soul, sport has a funny way of fast-tracking friendships. Human connection is such an important factor in maintaining good mental health. Being part of a team adds a support network that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
  • Sport is a proven de-stressor. It forces you to apply yourself fully to the task at hand, leaving behind thoughts and worries you may have had beforehand. In their place, sport stimulates the release of endorphins, which are your body’s natural happy chemicals.
  • Playing a sport alongside others teaches us the value of teamwork. Instead of reading about it or being lectured about it, sport forces you to put it into practice. It also helps develop leadership skills that can be applied in all areas of life.
  • Team sports teaches you how to deal with setbacks. No team wins all the time. Dealing with a loss or a poor performance, learning from it and trying again is all part of the journey. Setbacks build resilience and this can be carried over into everyday life, helping you to navigate the tough times and find a way through them.
  • Playing sport helps you get a better night’s sleep. We all know how important sleep is to our overall wellbeing – after training or competing, mind and body are ready for a good night’s rest.

2020 has been a tough year for everyone, but now is a great time to take up a new sport and get your body moving and your brain active going into summer. Our partners at Arc Sport UNSW have a great range of sport and active recreation options - from social sport, to joining a club, to just getting started in the comfort of your own home.

We will provide monthly updates on the wellness benefits associated with sport and active recreation and ideas for you to implement in your day-to-day life. Join our Facebook group and follow us on Instagram to make sure you don't miss an update.