Many of the guides that seek to help improve our lives, both physically and psychologically, recommend a number of key guidelines. Strategies and ideas that are easy to expose, even to argue their value, but that are not so easy to implement in our daily lives. They demand that we change our routines, those that we tend to follow because of the inertia that we ourselves have created and that has been gaining a lot of strength through repetition.
Now, well, sport is recommended. But what can it bring us on a mental level? Why does it deserve a place in our agendas? What is so valuable that when we get home, instead of putting it in order, we make a meal, rest or study languages, we decide to do sport? We don’t want to do anything, it’s raining and windy outside, there are a lot of people in the gym and an artificial heat that we are not used to.
Sport takes care of our body’s cells
Well, our mind seems somewhat abstract, that conductor that we often conceptually separate from the body, as if the basis of this is not the same biological substrate. We even talk about physical fatigue and mental fatigue, as if each one of us were exercising on one side.
When we exercise a very curious phenomenon happens, the cells of our body become oxygenated. The metaphor is simple: when we do sport it is as if we ventilate our body, just as we do our house every morning.
The truth is that in summer, this ventilation is not very expensive. However, in winter the matter is different. We don’t usually have a good time while the cold currents move through the living room and the bedrooms. However, when this happens, how do we feel afterwards? Much better, no?
Well, something similar happens with exercise. There are days when our body seems to love the sensation of our engine (heart) revving upwards-it would be like ventilating in summer-and others when it is very, very lazy (we have worked more during the day, we have not rested enough, or we have exercised more that week; it would be like ventilating in winter). However, how do we feel afterwards? Much better, right?
Sport connects the body with the mind
We’ve already said that our nervous system cells usually, and if we overdo it, they appreciate us giving our body a little movement and leaving a few calories for running, jumping, pedaling or walking around for a while.
Well, sport is also another advantage for us in that mind-body binomial. This advantage has to do with communication. It is curious, but, for example, when we talk to a regular sportsperson who is momentarily injured and we ask him what he misses most, he will probably answer that communication with his body.
If he hasn’t been able to exercise for a week or two, he may have a feeling that his body no longer speaks to him or that it only speaks in the language of pain. The information you receive from your body has become poorer, and much poorer.
So, what we get when we do sport is that communication with our body improves, we don’t have to be in pain to know that we are more or less energetic. On the other hand, it is a feeling that is not easy to explain for those who lead a sedentary life and years without doing sport. They do not remember what it is like to feel communicated with their body and therefore do not miss it.
It improves our social life and makes time for us
Other mental benefits of sport are twofold. One of them is the social aspect. Whether it is an individual or team sport, it is easy to end up meeting people in a situation similar to ours. Flesh and blood people who are not behind a screen, who can motivate us, with sport or with other goals in our lives and who will undoubtedly expand our social circle of support.
The other side of this advantage is defined by one fact: practicing sport means spending some time with ourselves. A time to reflect or simply to escape from our worries. During this time we are not going to think that we don’t get somewhere, that our food may be burned or that some of our gestures may not please someone or harm our image. In this sense, sport is often an exercise in freedom, an updating of our mental springs and an encounter with ourselves.
On the other hand, it is an act that will hardly generate a mental discomfort. It is very difficult that by doing sport we feel dissonance between who we are or would like to be and what we do. There are no threats, only challenges. That of scoring a basket or running a little faster. The issue is simplified and our mind appreciates this release.
Sport, discipline, faith and emotions
An indirect benefit of sport is order and discipline. Maintaining regular practice creates a sense of consistency that makes us feel good. That, “Well, listen, I’m actually capable of doing what I set out to do. These kinds of messages will strengthen our self-esteem and help us with other purposes as well.
We see it in many people who have given up, we translate it from their words. They do not make plans because they do not have faith that they will carry them out, so they live in a kind of anarchy loaded with reproaches because many of the decisions they make are random and the balances they build are very weak. Well, there are few activities better than sport to gain confidence.
How many advantages, right? Well, they are not over. And now it’s time to point out one of the most important: emotional regulation. Sport helps us to spend in a positive way that surplus of energy that almost all of us have by ingesting actually more calories than we can spend. Thus, a body with a lower need for activity will give us a greater margin to work with our emotions. So, for example, if we get angry it will be harder for us to jump or explode.
Sport, for example, has lowered our heart rate and blood pressure, so we will need more stimulation to become active as before. This widens the scope for us to act, to use the information of the emotion we feel intelligently and to let it dissipate without its energy leading us to perform behaviours we will later regret. In children, for example, sport also greatly promotes self-control and contributes, well disposed in their schedule, to regulate the rest.