Practising a sport on a regular basis is something very beneficial: physically, it improves your stamina, strengthens your heart, reduces the risk of suffering osteoporosis or atherosclerosis and also makes you less prone to acquire unhealthy habits such as drinking or smoking. But the advantages go beyond that: sports can also boost your self-esteem, help you feel less stressed and… contribute positively to academic success! So stop being lazy, get up from that couch and move that body!
Why is physical activity beneficial for your brain besides your muscles?
Because while you’re doing some sort of physical activity, your brain releases endorphins, a hormone in our body associated to happiness, thus helping us lower our cortisol (the “stress hormone”) levels, and contributing to the improvement of our general well-being by making us feel more relaxed and self-confident. Remember the “Mens sana in corpore sano” quote from Roman poet Juvenal’s Satires and give it a try!
Will practising a sport have a negative impact on my grades?
This is a common myth that is constantly heard and often used as an excuse to mask lack of motivation and/or general laziness. However, there are some people who genuinely think that getting engaged in a sport will leave them with less time to study and prepare their assignments. While it is true that being an elite swimmer who must train four hours every day and go twice a week to a tennis court because with your friend because you’re both keens on it is not the same thing; getting involved in a physical activity you enjoy doesn’t necessarily have to eat away at your studying time. In fact, daily devoting a specific time for a certain activity can actually help you become more methodical and organized. How? Because you become more aware of the time you have to finish a project or studying a certain topic before you need to go to soccer or karate practice and use it more efficiently.
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Okay, you’ve almost convinced me… But which sport should I choose?
Think carefully about this one. It is important for you to choose a sport you really enjoy, not simply pick one out of a list for the sake of doing so. Ask for some advice. For instance, if your friends regularly practice a sport, talk to them about their experiences, or go to your GP or to a sports specialist in order to find out about which could be the ideal sport for you. Sign up for test sessions so that you see if you really visualize yourself habitually doing this type of activity. And furthermore, take into account your own personality and preferences. If you are by nature a shy and introverted person or tend to get stressed out when there’s too much movement going on around you, team sports such as football or basketball might not really be your thing. On the other hand, there are many other “quieter” sports which can help you stay in shape and blow off some steam: Tai chi, jogging, trekking, Pilates, skating… Take your time and consider between several different options before you make up your mind. Remember… sport is something that must be enjoyable and gratifying!
What if I don’t have that much time?
And in case you don’t have that much time… or you still simply haven’t found which sport would be your best alternative, you can always sign up at a gym. Try to locate one near your home/residence, because if you subscribe to one which is rather far away, you’ll most likely end up always finding an excuse not to go. The advantages of working out at a gym include getting plenty of calories burned in a relatively short time, so even if you have a busy schedule you can still do some casual exercise a couple of days per week. Sign up at first for just a few months in order to see if you like it and whether it is an affordable thing for you or not and… have fun! Practising a sport doesn´t have to be boring or tedious!
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How ice-skating helped me feel less stressed and perform better in my studies
When I arrived at the ice-rink that cold January Sunday, I never imagined that so many years later I would still be there every Sunday at exactly ten o’clock in the morning, waiting for my lesson to start. I was already acquainted with ice-skating by the time I finally signed up for weekly lessons, but I had never practised it that way before. I think that the main reason I have kept up with my ice-skating lessons is that I have found a sport that I enjoy, which helps me manage stress in a healthy way and doesn’t interfere with my other obligations. When I’m at the rink, I forget about everything, just savoring the gelid air in my face and the smooth feeling of the ice sliding beneath my skate blades. In case I’m nervous or upset about something, I usually feel calmer after doing a pair of pirouettes. Sometimes more complicated leaps, such as the “loop” or the “toe salchow” can get into my nerves because they are more difficult to master and often make me feel clumsy; but then I remember that I am practising and improving… and that makes me feel really proud!
What about you? Do you regularly practice a sport? Which one? Since when? Do you think it has helped you become more productive and achieve better grades? Let us know in the comment section!