Students at all levels are usually under some form of pressure. Even when you’re in the middle school or high school, the expectations to perform well–in academics, extra-curricular, and social life among other aspects–can get a bit overwhelming. Many times, teenage students also find themselves expected to take on additional courses or take classes that might be above their academic ability.
With so much on their minds, some might think that adding sports to their schedule will only increase the stress. However, there is now evidence that playing sports–just for fun or competitively–can help students deal with stress and brings stress levels down. The following discussion will hopefully shed light on why baseball, along with other sports, can be very beneficial for students of all ages.
Physical Activity and Endorphins
While all sports do involve some physical activity, baseball is one of the options that involve several kinds of movements. A baseball player will be running, catching, batting, and throwing all in the course of one game. These actions will be a much better way to exercise the overall body function than sports that just concentrate on one activity.
Studies have shown that playing sports or doing some exercise in general can help the body release endorphins. Endorphins are brain chemicals that are responsible for relieving stress and pain. With sports like baseball, players are more likely to experience reduced stress hormone levels, adrenaline, and cortisol. The studies on the link between lowered stress and exercise show that just 20-30 minutes of physical activity can lead to calmer feelings in a person. The feel-good endorphins will enhance their sense of well-being, which is important when you’re a student and need motivation to keep going.
Here are some other benefits that students can get when they frequently play baseball or conduct another regular physical activity:
- The activity can take the student’s mind off of worries, breaking the negative cycle of thoughts that lead to anxiety or depression
- By meeting small challenges within the game, such as getting a run for their team, the student can get a boost in self-confidence
- The exercise can help them stay in shape, which further enhances their confidence
- Baseball is an enjoyable game, and this enjoyment will lead to a more positive frame of mind even during other times of the day
Whether a student plays baseball for fun or joins a team, they will get a lot of mental, physical, and emotional benefits. If we look at video games by the numbers, there are a lot of students who are inclined towards this sedentary pastime to wind down. However, baseball is a healthier distraction from a stressful life.
Time Outdoors and Exposure to Sunlight
There are quite a few studies which show how stress can be relieved within mere minutes of being outside or getting in touch with nature. While baseball can be played indoors, it’s usually an outdoors game. Spending more time in open spaces has also been found to reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) levels. If you’re playing outside in fresh air, that time will also be instrumental in boosting the production of ‘happy’ chemicals like dopamine as well as endorphins.
What’s more, the exposure to sunlight during a baseball game or practice session can also improve a student’s Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiencies are likely to increase stress and lead to many other illnesses, so students need to avoid them. Staying inside and studying all day might lead to such defenses. In order to reduce stress and improve mood, a student can get their daily dose of Vitamin D partly through baseball.
With the right balance of sunlight, students may also get more of the ‘happy’ chemical called serotonin. This chemical is essential for keeping a person focused, calm, and in a good mood. Sunlight is associated with the production of serotonin, so more sun exposure during baseball will help a student feel happier and be less prone to bouts of depression and sadness.
Team Building and Social Support
Playing baseball is not just a matter of getting exercise or staying active. For many students who play a sport, it’s also about being part of a team and working together. As studies show, being part of a cohesive, friendly, and supportive team can give students both social support and help in managing their stress.
According to a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, participating in a team sport can have several social and psychological health benefits. With the increased social support, participants would also have a greater sense of belonging, more positive social interactions, and higher self-esteem. Overall, it is evident that most people will benefit from participation in healthy, mutually supportive teamwork on a regular basis.
Eventually, students that regularly play baseball with their team or even just a group of friends might hope to get a close-knit support network, much like that of a family. Teammates can help to cheer each other up, establish a social network, and be there for each other when needed. There was also a 2014 study conducted by the University of Toronto that showed how team sports can enhance the mental health (both long and short term) of players in their teens and young adulthood. The same study also showed strong connections among playing team sports and lowered symptoms of stress, depression, and other mental health issues.
Goal-Setting and Achievement
Yet another aspect of baseball, as with many other sports, is that the players set certain goals and regularly work on achieving them. The goals don’t stop; when a player reaches a certain level of fitness or a master a certain skill, they move on to the next level.
Striving towards goals and achieving them will also help in gaining more confidence as well as self-esteem. Both of these improvements can lead to lower stress levels. Here are a few main benefits of setting goals on a person’s overall well-being and mental health status:
- With new challenges and goals, baseball players can learn how to be more resilient; they can then deal with other stressful situations more easily
- The player also learns to keep their cool, even when things seem to be going south
- They will learn that sometimes you have to accept defeat; instead of stressing out, working on the issues is what will help the most
- They will also learn to stay humble and realize that they need to keep working hard in order to hone their skills
If the students are talented enough at the game, they might even start traveling to other venues and playing matches with various teams. When they’re packing for such a trip, they should pack properly and also learn how to fly with baseball equipment. This will protect the items and enable players to practice better in a new area.
Focus and Mindfulness
Playing baseball demands a lot of attention, which enhances a player’s mindfulness and focusing skills. These two exercises also help reduce stress, manage emotions better, and improve overall well-being.
Plus, the games and practices provide a mental respite when the student is forced to draw their minds away from studies and academic goals for some time. They’re still using their brains–it’s not like they’re brainlessly staring at a screen–but the respite prevents stress levels from building up. Of course, it’s not only baseball that leads to such benefits, but any sport that helps to clear one’s head and give them time away from other pressures of life.
While it’s impossible to completely eliminate stress from our lives, there are some research-based methods that show us how to manage stress to an extent. While medication and professional therapy might be necessary for some people, students usually don’t need or won’t always have access to these options right away.
Fortunately, it is possible to manage anxiety and stress with the addition of regular exercise. By adding a bit of baseball practice to their daily routines, students can get frequent stimulation of endorphins, production of chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine, and gain many other mental health benefits.
By being part of a playing team, they will also be able to manage stress by knowing that there are several friends in their social network. Distracting the students for a bit and helping their self-confidence are also beneficial steps towards better stress management. In a nutshell, playing baseball can be a great way to reduce stress for students of different ages and backgrounds.