Proof That Watching Sports Can Be Good For Your Mental Health

Cheering on your favourite sports team could have positive mental health benefits, according to a British study. In addition to nurturing cohesion between fans, it can provide additional motivation for people to get up and get active.

If you needed an excuse to watch your favourite athletes playing in the Commonwealth Games, or to tune in to the upcoming Premier League, then this news should be music to your ears.

According to a study published by Better* — a UK-based charitable social enterprise providing access to community facilities — half of respondents (49%) believe that cheering on a team is good for their mental health. Some 51% of men and 46% of women surveyed felt this way.

These benefits are particularly noticeable in terms of social interactions. One in two people say that watching a sporting event helps them socialise more with family and friends. More than a third of respondents (35%) feel included as part of a community.

watching sports mental health
The study found that cheering on your favourite sports team could have positive mental health benefits. (Image: Gustavo Ferreira/ Unsplash)

How sports could benefit one’s mental and physical health

And gone is the image of the sports fan slumped on the couch with a bag of chips in hand. According to the study, a third of respondents (34%) said that watching sporting events inspired them to be more active. In fact, one fifth of women watch sports while exercising at home or at the gym.

But not all sports fans are as active as others. The study ranked Britain’s fans according to their sport of choice and their level of health and fitness, taking into account their physical activity, their diet and their alcohol consumption, for example. Cycling and tennis fans came top of the list, ahead of golf, Formula 1, cricket, soccer and rugby fans.

“We can see from these results how essential the presence of sports has been, improving socialisation with friends, bettering mental health, and making fans feel part of a tight-knit community. It also encourages a large number of people to become more active themselves, and this is a huge aim of Better, to increase participation in sports and fitness across all ages and abilities,” concludes Phil Hannen, health intervention manager at Better.

*Methodology: The study was conducted in June 2022 among 2,000 UK sports fans via OnePoll

This story was published via AFP Relaxnews

(Main and featured image: Gorodenkoff/ Shutterstock)