Can sport improve your mental health?

By Olivia Rogers

With Varsity fast approaching, I caught up with four members of Swansea Badminton Club to see whether students at Swansea University felt sports provided them with an outlet to reduce their stress and anxiety.

Why do you choose to participate in sport?

Saskia: “It’s something I’ve always done and was keen to continue it at University.”

Jit Hin Tam: “Because I have done it since I was a child and find it very stimulating.”

Becky Jo: “Because I have always been a sporty person, it’s a productive outlet as it gives me a sense of achievement.”

Anonymous: “Because it gets me out of the house which then encourages me to socialise.”

Do you feel that exercise affects your mental health in a positive way?

Saskia: “Yes, I find Badminton is – for me – something to focus on and I feel part of a community, which is good – especially at University as it can be quite a lonely place at times.”

Jit Hin Tam: “Yes because I feel relaxed when I play badminton, it’s an area where I can forget about demanding workloads.”

Becky Jo: “Definitely – I have been known to have arguments with friends in the past and not address my issues, as I am the type of person to bottle emotions; I find it easier to release these emotions in a competitive way.”

Anonymous: “Yes, because if I am having a bad day it lifts me up because it makes me feel like I have achieved something.”

What would you say to people who may be hesitant to join a sports team at university due to self-esteem/anxiety?

Saskia: “You should always give it a go; everyone is nice and there really is no judgement, everybody just wants everyone to have a good time.”

Jit Hin Tam: “It’s a good chance to meet new people and make good friends.”

Becky Jo: “There are social options, it doesn’t have to be competitive. Having fun is the main reason – it’s not all about winning. It is also an excuse to get out of your comfort zone in a place where you can be yourself and meet fantastic people.”

Anonymous: “I have anxiety now, and I find by partaking in a sport it increases your self-esteem. It may be daunting at first, but it gets you out. So, if you don’t like clubbing, joining a sports team can help you with making friends who may then encourage you to go out.”

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