Most of the time people talk about the physical effects of exercise - but body and mind are not to be considered independently of one another. Exercise also has an effect on the psyche. Does sport promote mental health or is it more stressful?
Various studies have shown that regular endurance sports are good for the psyche. Many of the physiological effects of exercise also have a positive effect on the psyche: the brain is better supplied with blood and the body releases opioids, endocannabinoids and endorphins. Sport lifts the mood, improves mental performance and inhibits pain perception.
Sport can even be used to support the treatment of mental illnesses. Successes are reported here, especially in the case of depression, burnout and Alzheimer's disease. A study in the USA also showed that regular exercise several times a week can lead to an improvement in mental health. The positive effects of exercise have their origin in the way of life of our ancestors, who moved significantly more than we did. However, it is not just the physical effects that affect the psyche that make sport so healthy for the mind. Often the framework conditions also play a major role: in team sports, in the gym or at running meetings, the social aspect is also supportive for mental wellbeing.
Regular social contacts give structure and promote mental health. For sports that take place outdoors, such as surfing, walking, canoeing or cycling, even being in nature regularly is a relief for the psyche. But exercise can also be negative for mental health and stress the psyche. Exercise can have a negative impact on the psyche. This is especially true in the case of competitive athletes. Ambition and pressure to succeed as well as frustration and discouragement when losing play a major role here. Competitions represent an enormous psychological stress. Self-esteem is often linked to sporting success. Through daily, time-consuming training, social contacts are also impaired by sport.
But not only competitive sport can affect the psyche: various types of behavior can also have a negative effect in sport. Perfectionism, excessive ambition and high expectations of yourself can make sport another field in life where there is pressure to perform and self-esteem is tied to success. If your own performance and continuous improvement in performance are the main reasons for exercise - instead of pleasure - then your own limits are often exceeded. Ideally, sport is an area in which you can feel your body and mind and come to yourself.
Regular exercise can take into account the mood and shape of the day and promote body awareness. If, however, permanent increase in performance is in the foreground or the desire for the supposedly perfect body, you can get used to precisely this sensitivity and dealing with yourself - your own body and your own psyche. This behavior is detrimental to mental health. Sport is not the cause of this, but it is also an area in which psychologically and physically unhealthy behavior can be lived out. With the right balance of performance and fun in sport, sport can relieve the psyche and promote holistic health. We wish you a lot of fun and entertainment in sports! Whether at work or in sports: Success develops in the head.
Why the head, including your psyche, has one single access to athletic performance. High performance is not a coincidence, instead of a reward for mental strength. This does not enable the living to run faster, but it does to completely reject everything at the right moment and to sharpen your focus - qualities that are important not only in sports but also while at work. In order to gain mental strength, you have to train the brain like a regular muscle. Mental exercice is as tough as lifting heavy weights. But experts say the more stable you are spiritually, the less self-doubt and fear you experience.
Autor: Herr Leonard Hofmann