For more than five decades, the scientific community has been working towards evidence on the positive effects of sports and physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle. Regular physical activity can help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that one in four patients visiting a health centre has at least one mental, neurological or behavioural disorder, but most are neither diagnosed nor treated. Several studies have shown that exercise may play a therapeutic role in addressing these disorders and positively influences depression.
Physical self-worth and self-perception, including body image, have been linked to improved self-esteem. This is also relevant for children. Children who play sports have lower body fat, stronger muscles and bones, and increased cardiovascular fitness. They have a much lower risk of becoming overweight or obese and can create a foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Positive health outcomes are one of the significant benefits of youth sports participation.
The pros of exercising:
Many athletes do better academically: Playing a sport requires a lot of time and energy. Some people may think this would distract student-athletes from schoolwork. Sports require memorisation, repetition and learning — skill-sets that are directly relevant to classwork.
Sport teaches teamwork and problem-solving skills: Fighting for a common goal with a group of players and coaches teaches you how to build teamwork and effectively communicate to solve problems.
Physical health benefits of sports: Clearly, sports can help you reach your fitness goals and maintain a healthy weight. However, they also encourage healthy decision-making, such as not smoking and drinking.
Sports boost self-esteem: Watching your hard work pay off and achieving your goals develops self-confidence.
Reduce pressure and stress with sports: Exercising is a natural way to loosen up and let go of stress.
Here is how exercise and sports promote good health:
Improved cardiovascular health
Lowers risk of Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes
Helps manage weight
Reduced blood pressure
Enhanced aerobic fitness
Improved muscular strength and endurance
Improved joint flexibility and range of motion
Lowers risk of certain types of cancer
Wards off osteoporosis
Strengthens immune system
Mental health benefits
Sports activities suitable to stay healthy: Walking (recreational), fitness or gym, running or athletics, swimming, cycling, Basketball/ Tennis, Football, etc. We might not get to engage in a few of the activities mentioned above in the pandemic, but some can be done, such as walking in isolation or cycling. One of the best practices that people engaging in sports activities must follow is a stringent diet.
The following should be included in your daily diet:
Starchy vegetables (sweet/white potatoes, squash)
Non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, leafy greens)
Whole grain bread or crackers
High-fiber, non-sugary cereals
Foods sports persons must avoid:
Protein and energy bars
Saturated and trans fat
(The writer, Dr. Manjeet Singh Arora is a senior general physician at Fortis Hospital, Mulund)
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