How Sports Affect Your Nervous System
We all know that sports make us feel good. There is nothing that compares to that moment after a demanding game of football or basketball. Except for the moments when we get injured, sports are a nice activity that everyone enjoys. And even when we have a muscle-based injury, the treatment for this kind of injury has evolved a lot.
But what effect do sports have on your nervous system? What kind of changes takes place in our brain when we exercise?
It has been proved that 10 to 30 minutes of physical activity per day improve our mood. We all live stressful situations every day. Whether there is something minor like missing the bus or something of high importance for ourselves like an exam, we know what stress is. But to overcome these overwhelming situations, we need to develop and improve coping mechanisms. And physical activity is one of them.
The thing is when we exercise our body releases endorphins. Endorphins are associated with positive feelings and a more positive and optimistic view of the future.
That feeling you have after you exercise is called euphoria. It is also known as "runner's high" and it is described by a reduced level of anxiety, an amazing feeling of euphoria and less pain felt.
You well know all those moments when you thought that you cannot face the situation anymore. Or those moments when you thought you do not have enough resources for a task. Those are stressful situations that make our minds worry. And when we are not in a good mental state, the body does not feel any good either.
Exercising and sports trigger the release of endorphins in our body. We feel euphoric and ready to conquer the world after a good sports session. This means that we do not feel stressed, but stress-free. And even five minutes of aerobic done every day can have long term effects on our subjective level of stress.
The endorphins our body releases during an intense physical activity are transported to our peripheral nervous system. They find here opioid receptors to bind with. This triggers a cascade of activities in our brains. The main effect is that they inhibit the release of a protein involved in the transmission of pain. Like this, the ability to feel pain is numbed. Instead, we feel more pleasure and less stress and pain.
Virginia Joyce, who is edubirdie safe contributor at my perfect words says that 30 minutes per day changed her life totally. She feels less numb, fitter and less anxious. She does this for over a year now and the effects are visible.
Sports are known to improve the quality of sleep. After a lot of sports activity where you drained your energy, you only need a good night's sleep. The endorphins released interact with the hypothalamus, which is known to maintain the circadian clock.
The circadian clock is represented by a timing mechanism that coordinates all our behavior, physical and psychological activity within 24 hours of day and night. Sports help you regulate your diurnal rhythm, contributing to improving the quality of sleep.
But not every moment is right for sports. If you exercise right before you go to sleep, you might find it hard to fall asleep as you will feel more energized than tired. Remember the runner's high. You should practice at least two hours before going to sleep.
It may seem odd to you that sports have any correlation with leadership traits. But they do. Studies that involved high-school students who play sports have proved that sports contribute to the improvement of leadership skills. In fact, every sport adolescents play and it is a team sport, develops their team mindset.
Why does this happen? Because adolescents are involved in team training and they even play official games. They might win or lose the game, but they do this as a team. Their mindset is trained early, so later in life they will probably adopt a team mindset. Not only when playing a game of basketball or soccer, but when they are involved in work-related activities.
It is a popular opinion that sports can help you reduce depression. Sports act as an inhibitor for some neurotransmitters, like GABA. The inhibit of GABA receptors results in an excess of dopamine released. This is why sports is a recommended activity for people with depression.
The release of endorphins and dopamine contributes to the overall level of happiness and life satisfaction. Also, exercising and doing sports contribute to a higher level of self-esteem. All these positive feelings are what people with depression need.
Sports are good for our health, both mental and physical. They contribute to our physical health and help us keep fit. But they have also effects that are not so visible. They improve our mood and give us that euphoric and happy feeling after a good sports session. The release of endorphins produces a lot of changes in our nervous system, making us less anxious and stressed.
Also, playing team sports like basketball, soccer or football when in high-school, contributes to shaping your leadership skills. Like this, a team mindset is formed and will be used later in life, in work-related situations and not only.
Sports are also good for people with depression, as it is characterized by a release of dopamine. Sports inhibit the proteins that are responsible for the transmission of pain, so you will feel less pain. Your circadian rhythm is regulated and a good night's sleep always follows a demanding sports session.
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