September means cool breezes and changing leaves, but for millions of Americans fall means pulling out that lucky football jersey and giant foam finger.
Being a football fan means more than just attending games, cheering when your favorite team wins and venting when they lose. According to recent research in the UK, sports fandom has actually been shown to boost overall mental wellness in individuals of all ages.
If you have ever been to a college or professional football game you probably understand the camaraderie that extends to all fellow fans. This solidarity unites us with others in our community and nurtures our social wellness, a key component in maintaining optimal mental health. Many fan bases extend family generations and serve just as much a commemorative purpose as entertainment, and bonding with strangers is easier with a common ground, potentially building friendships that can grow into a lifetime of support.
Sports have the power to boost self-esteem, even for those who have never played. According to an article published in Psychology Today, when our favorite team wins we are likely to say, “We won” as this particular team is part of our identity and offers a feeling of belonging.
Although working out is not always associated with watching sports, it turns out that after the game ends football fans are also more likely to work out and care for their own health. Professional athletes inspire many to run, jump and get moving, which means burning calories while reducing anxiety and depression.
Social wellness, emotional support, self-esteem and physical exercise are all important components of building a healthy whole. Even if you are not a natural sports person, make this an opportunity to spend the day with your family and friends.
This fall, pick a team and wear your jersey with pride knowing that you could very well be improving your mental health every time your team gets a touchdown!