Watching Sports on TV May Be Good for You, Study Suggests

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.25 - 2024 8:17 PM CET

Researchers have identified which sports are particularly beneficial to watch.

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Watching sports on TV might be more than just a fun activity; it could also be beneficial for your mental health.

A new study from Waseda University in Japan suggests that watching sports activates the brain's reward system, leading to improved mental well-being.

The Study's Findings

Researchers at Waseda University examined the psychological effects of watching sports on a large group of people.

The most intriguing finding was that watching sports stimulated the brain's reward system, leading to a longer-lasting sense of mental well-being. This was determined by analyzing brain activity in 14 participants while they watched sports, as well as reviewing existing data from 20,000 Japanese people.

"Both subjective and objective measures of mental well-being indicated that participants were positively affected by watching sports," explained Professor Shintaro Sato, one of the study’s researchers, in a press release.

He added that the activation of the reward system is responsible for the boost in mental health.

Which Sports Are Beneficial?

The study also explored which sports were particularly beneficial for mental well-being.

The researchers found that watching popular sports like baseball and football provided the most significant improvement in mental well-being, both during and after watching. This suggests that regular viewing of sports, especially more popular ones, could be a practical strategy for enhancing mental health.

However, the researchers observed that less popular sports, such as golf, did not yield as strong results.

A Cautionary Note for Hardcore Fans

While watching sports can be beneficial, there's a potential downside for intense fans.

A study conducted after the 2018 World Cup linked watching sports to heart problems among Croatian national football team supporters. The research found that the number of cardiovascular incidents, including issues with blood circulation and the heart, increased by 15% during the period when the Croatian team played.

These findings suggest that while watching sports can have positive effects on mental well-being, moderation is key, especially for those who experience heightened stress or excitement during games. Keeping a balanced approach to enjoying sports on TV can ensure that you benefit from the positive aspects without risking adverse health effects.

With the summer of 2024 promising major sports events, including the UEFA European Championship and the Olympics, viewers can look forward to a season of excitement.

Just remember to enjoy the action with a balanced mindset for optimal mental health.

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