I shall start this article by sharing the following case study. In my neighbourhood at Rehbab- Sahib Ali Kadal there were groups of boys that used to spend their evening time sitting idle on road side.
Since in the downtown area there is a space crunch for sports activities, most of the teenagers would be located on shop pavements glued to their mobile phones. As is well defined that idle man’s brain is devils workshop, many teenagers started experimenting with soft drugs.
Since there is a strong community involvement, seniors of the locality made an early intervention with active support of the concerned SHO and parents for rehabilitation of these deviated youth.
These deviated youths were minutely observed by the community members and counselled with a sense of belongingness. This was followed by a vigorous follow up. These deviated youths were never given an impression that they were odd ones out but a part of an extended family.
Post counselling, most of these youth are back on the track and are vigorously involved in sports activities. Every Sunday early morning they move to Eidgah ground for cricket matches.
The community members have developed an unpunctuated faith in them, citing my own example I allow my small kid to accompany them to Eidgah for learning to play cricket.
While interacting with some of these rehabilitated youth they said that engaging in sports activities have given them the direction in life, they feel rejuvenated and high spirited. Due to engagement in sports activity they feel interested in their respective vocations and few school dropouts have joined back to school.
Every year August 29 is celebrated as National Sports Day in India. The day marks the birth anniversary of India’s field hockey player, Major Dhyan Chand who is widely regarded as one of the greatest field hockey players in history.
NEP 2020 envisages sports as a part of the curriculum and lays emphasis on sports-integrated learning as well as adopting fitness as a lifelong attitude. National Credit Framework is being rolled out with due weightage to sports and other co-curricular activities.
The author of this article had an opportunity to interact with hundreds of youth who were living a sedentary life style, I had the opportunity to share the following benefits of sports with them. I share the same for wider audience through this esteemed paper.
Physical Health Benefits of Sports
1. Regulates Weight
One of the major benefits of sporting activities is that it helps you to regulate weight. An inactive job and a sedentary lifestyle are some of the main causes of obesity. Obese people have a higher threat of hypertension and heart ailments. If obese people engage themselves in sports activities that demand zealous physical activity, they can burn more calories, shed extra body mass and reduce the chances of superfluous weight gain. Thus, they can sustain a good physique. Choosing the right sport as per your health state of affairs and following a balanced diet can help persons control weight gain.
2. Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Another health advantage of sports is it helps to control cholesterol levels. Individuals who are involved in physical activities like sports have lower cholesterol levels in comparison to those who do not actively participate in sports or other physical activities.
3. Improves Blood Flow
Sport is good for health as it helps to improve blood flow. Any kind of sports game requires active participation, which increases haemoglobin and blood volume. When you play any kind of game, your heart pumps faster and puts additional pressure on your heart muscles. Thus, this additional pressure strengthens heart muscles and improves blood flow.
4. Reduces Hypertension
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a major health hazard that can cause stroke and other heart-related issues. Playing sports helps to regulate blood sugar level. Almost all kinds of games demands running, stretching and other physical activities. When you perform such activities, it makes your heart sturdier, and the force on arteries decreases, which reduces blood pressure. Thus, by participating in sports, you can ingeniously manage your blood pressure level.
5. Stronger Immune System
Sports and regular exercise improve the White Blood Cells (WBCs) which are the key agent of the body that fights disease. Moderate to high-intensity exercises improve blood circulation, which augments the immunity system. Sports and regular movement helps to counter pathogens and other harmful organisms. Hence, stronger immunity gets into the list of health benefits of playing games.
6. Strong Muscles
Muscle training activities such as lifting weights can support to maintain muscle mass and strength. Further, through sports like soccer, tennis, baseball, you can reinforce your muscles and train them to work in a perfect manner. This is known as neuromuscular programming. The longer you stay active in games, the more your muscles improve and stay stronger. Also, playing sports help to strengthen your muscles and burn fat simultaneously.
7. Strong Bones
While participating in any kind of sports, you put stress on your bones with maximum strength movements, which helps increase bone density and make bones stronger. It makes you less prone to fractures. For instance, if you put additional stress on bones, the increased level of pressure enables bones to adapt to this condition and become denser. Therefore, if you continue this deep activity for a long duration, your bones get stronger. With advanced age, bone density reduces, but if individuals keep themselves involved in light sports, they can maintain a good bone density level.
Mental Health Benefits of Playing Sports
Similar to physical benefits, sports have an enormous effect on mental health.
1. Lifts Mood
Playing sports forces you to concentrate on the constructive activities and keep worries aside. As physical activities trigger brain chemicals, people become happy and feel relaxed. Hence, sports can catalyse your mood.
2. Diminishes Stress
One of the significant effects of sport on mental health is that it helps to fight depression. Today around 60 to 80% of people visit a doctor to treat stress-related issues. The positive effects of sports on mental health can help individuals expressively. Physical activities result in the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the chemicals in the brain that help to reduce stress and pain. Playing sports also helps to reduce stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. Studies reveal that 20-30 minutes of daily exercise allows individuals to stay calm, which stays hours after exercise.
3. Improve Sleeping Habits
Sports improve the quality of sleep. A deep workout makes you fall asleep faster and also deepens your sleep. For example, persons who engage in 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise can experience better sleep compared to days when they did not do exercise.
5. Rejuvenates Self-Confidence
Playing sports or participating in regular exercise can help in lifting self-confidence. While you engage in any kind of sport, your strength and skills increase; thereby improving your self-confidence.
Other Health Benefits of Playing Sports
If a person has a prolonged health issues, sports or regular exercise can help him to tackle the symptoms and maintain an improved health condition.
1. Diabetes: Regular exercise helps to reduce blood sugar levels. Further, if a person has type 2 diabetes, exercise can reduce heart disease chances.
2. Asthma: If a person has asthma, he can lower the control frequency and severity of attack by engaging in sports activities. Exercise improves lung carrying capacity, reduce inflammation, strengthen muscle and improves cardiovascular fitness.
3. Arthritis: Persons suffering from rheumatoid arthritis need to stay physically active. There are several sports or physical exercises such as stretching, walking, water exercises that are easy on joints and help in muscle strengthening and reducing joint stiffness.
4. Cancer: Individuals who have recovered from cancer can improve their health by doing some exercises. Exercise reduces the risk of dying from prostate cancer and breast cancer.
5. Dementia: Benefits of sports can be realized in patients with dementia. Regular exercise can improve cognition and lower the chances of cognitive degeneration and dementia.
6. Heart Disease: Studies reveal that moderate exercise works well in patients with heart diseases. Also, by doing regular exercises, individuals with high blood pressure can reduce the chances of dying from heart disease and further progression.
To conclude engage yourself in various types of sports as per your health condition and get the benefits mentioned above.
Dr Showkat Rashid Wani, Senior Coordinator, Directorate of Distance Education University of Kashmir