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We all know sports are great for your physical health. Whether you enjoy some alone time working out at the local gym or prefer to meet friends for team sports, the benefits are the same. Not only do they boost your strength, stamina and physique, they help with heart health, too. However, there is now an increasing understanding of the beneficial effects that sports and exercise play in maintaining positive mental and emotional health, too. Here’s a few ways sports help you have a better day.

1. Happier feelings

The science is in: sports improve your mood. The reason is pure biology. Taking part in vigorous exercise, whether it’s on the basketball court or jogging on the sea front, releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins. Their only job? To make you feel happy and euphoric. So if you’re feeling down in the dumps, science says going for a brisk walk could lift you up. Some studies even suggest that regular exercise could play a role in treating mood disorders such as depression, although more research will be needed to find out exactly how.

2. Better sleep

Although a little sunlight makes us feel happier, your brain does not work on solar power alone. Sleep is the battery pack for the mind and it needs to recharge for at least seven hours a night. It can be hard to fall into restful sleep if we are still stressed out from a deadlines and bosses. That’s where sports come in. A good workout on the field or in the gym helps promote healthy sleep, making sure you awake with your mind in the right gear.

3. Better smarts

It doesn’t end there. Sports literally make you smarter. A regular physical activity helps keep your cognitive skills — or learning skills — sharp. For the optimum effect on your wellbeing, why not combine the two angles and get yourself into college on a sports scholarship? It could be just what the doctor ordered to keep your mind and body in top condition.

4. Healthier weight

People do obsess over weight and while it may not be healthy to go on a crash diet or take risks with sudden major changes to the way you eat, a healthy weight is still important for your overall wellbeing. It turns out that being too heavy doesn’t just affect your body and increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and type 2 diabetes. It also has an effect on your susceptibility to anxiety and depression, so maintaining a healthy weight can reduce symptoms, according to the CDC. A regular physical activity is the best way, along with a sensible diet, to keep your weight right for your body type and your age.

5. Better friendships

Social fellowship is a key component of positive mental wellbeing. Team sports or sporting clubs are a great way to make friends who share an interest and competing together can help form real bonds. Even if you don’t lean towards team sports, being in good physical shape will boost your self-confidence, drawing more of what you like towards you.