By Ken Reed

Dr. Monnica T. Williams, a licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa, wrote an important article about the value of exercise on mental health for Psychology Today last month. In the article, she outlined why exercise can be as positive for mental health as it is for physical health.

“Most people do not realize that aerobic exercise is good not just for your body but for your psyche as well,” wrote Williams.

“Although most consider psychotherapy or medications to be the frontline approach for psychological disorders, exercise remains underappreciated as a free and fun remedy for numerous mental health concerns.”

Wiliams points out several studies that reveal how regular exercise reduces the symptoms of OCD, depression, PTSD, ADHD, and other mental health challenges.

“In light of these findings, public schools should think twice about eliminating PE and shrinking recess time for students,” wrote Williams.

Williams believes sports participation can be even better than exercising on your own because the people connection in sports is also beneficial for mental health.

As Williams points out:

“Research shows that participating in sports helps people develop better social skills, improves self-esteem, fosters self-confidence, improves self-control, and leads to greater competence. Further, people who engage in sports have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.” (Hiremath, 2019)

While she pushes for increased sports participation — especially for young people — she does caution against sports that involve regular blows to the head, due to the increased risk of brain injuries that can result in several persistent mental health issues, including post-concussive syndrome.

Bottom line, Williams’ message to all of us is get up and move! She’s confident we’ll feel better physically and mentally.

[Hiremath, C. (2019). Impact of sports on mental health. International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education]

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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