Sport is Good - Let's Protect It

Being a professional athlete or football player is tough mentally, but is that because of the sport or the culture?

It’s proven that exercise is good for people’s health, both mentally and physically. Regularly raising your heart rate can reduce the risk of depression and have a positive impact on your overall mood by at least 30%. It’s important that people are encouraged to exercise in whatever way they can to maintain and improve physical health.

When it comes to mental benefits from sport, it has been proven that exercise boots serotonin and dopamine levels and these are essentially your ‘happy hormones’. Engaging in sport or exercise can really help with mental health, regardless whether it’s something you struggle with or not. Everyone at times may need to de-stress or clear their heads and there’s arguably no better way to do this than through some form of exercise.

Athletes and footballers benefit from it too, just like everyone else.

Sam Walker, Goalkeeper at Bradford AFC, shares his love and benefits from sport and exercise:

“Sports and exercise is all I’ve ever known. Growing up in a sport-loving family meant if I wasn’t playing, I’d be watching my dad or uncle, or sport on the TV. It was a constant in my life and still is to this day.

Cricket is my first and strongest love but obviously football comes close alongside golf and rugby union.

The physical benefits are clear, but it’s more than that for me. It provides a platform for boosting confidence and self-esteem but most importantly, sport provides that social interaction - a sense of belonging in a team, friendships created, enjoying winning together but dealing with losses together too.

Sport brings me great joy and has the ability to unite so many others in its joy too!”

The love players have for sport is wonderful and inspiring - we must protect it.

Players can be concerned and stressed about whether they’re in the team, if they have to transfer, if they aren’t performing very well, criticism, and more. The intensity of sport, and the new pressures that come with playing professionally, have a negative impact on a player, combatting the positives of the sport.

It’s important that whilst playing sport at their level is their job, they have the correct support available to navigate the pressures and still enjoy sport as they did when they were younger. Making sure they can enjoy the sport like they did before they became professional is key. Not only does it help with their performance, but it also helps players and athletes on a personal level mentally.

At UKIM Occupational Health & Wellbeing we aim to tackle poor mental health and protect the positive impacts sports and exercise can have for people or players.