February 23, 2017

A healthy mind in a healthy body: The benefits of sports for the mind

Being diagnosed with prostate cancer causes stress and a wide range of intense emotions, from sadness and frustration to denial and despair.

At these tough times, you should remember that maintaining good physical health is an excellent method of preventing depression. Here is a discussion of the sound reasons to engage in sports – the benefits that can bring to the mind.

Sports help you stay away from drugs

An increasing number of studies have shown that physical activity acts as a form of therapy to counter mild depression. It also helps one relieve stress, combat anxiety, and thus stay away from any measure of alcohol or drug use. Indeed, research has proven that sport helps the body secrete more endorphins, also called the “hormones of happiness”, when you engage in physical activity.

These hormones are secreted by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, and produce a pleasant feeling of completeness – similar to what the drugs and alcohol do. It is this pleasant sensation that makes athletes less interested in consuming illicit substances in search of endorphins.

Sports counter depression

Research in the US has demonstrated that engaging in physical activity is highly beneficial for those who suffer from depression. According to one study, sports could be as effective as medication, as 60% of patients that engaged in 30 minutes of daily physical activity were able to overcome depression without medication.

The same success rate was achieved by those that had only undergone chemotherapy. That is not to say that sports is a miracle cure that replaces a necessary visit to a health professional – it is just a well-founded assertion that physical activity has significant benefits.

Sports improves one’s cognitive abilities

Engaging in regular physical activity helps you improve your memory, in particular motor or automatic memory. Sports also delays memory loss due to age, which is caused by the narrowing of the hippocampus. Indeed, moving stimulates this area to produce neurons, which then delays memory loss.

Physical activity also improves creativity and helps form solutions to problems faster. Even simply walking can increase a person’s creativity by 60%.

To sum up, it is clear that the benefits of sports on your mind and body can be numerous. That is why you should incorporate physical activity into every day if you want to stay healthy longer both mentally and physically, especially if you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Inspired by the blog of David Desjardins

David Desjardins is a frequent contributor to L'Actualité, Vélo Mag, and Entrée Principale on Radio-Canada. He is the editor of NotreSanté.ca

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