Sports and Mental Health

Ella Nichols, Editor

Everyday after school, three seasons a year, students rush to gyms, fields, and tracks for sports. For many students, sports are an outlet to forget everything that happened that day. They help many students let go of all of their frustrations and focus solely on the sport at hand. 

This is especially true for senior, Sydney Kardasz. She participates in sports for all three seasons out of the year (cross country, swim, and track). Kardasz says

Through popular movies and TV shows, high school sports teams have gained the stigma of being a cliquey, dramatic, stressful time for high school students. At St. Charles West, this is not the case. Most sports teams are supportive, fun ways to make new friends and an outlet for students to use to relieve stress, anxiety, or anger. 

Mia Nicastro is someone who is constantly playing a sport, specifically basketball. She participates in physical activity everyday for at least two hours a day. When asked about how sports help her deal with everyday stress and anxieties, Nicastro says “Whenever I have had a bad or stressful day at school, it really helps me to go to practice where I can just have fun and relax. I love playing basketball, so being able to play and hang out with my teammates when I’ve had a stressful day has helped me manage my everyday anxiety a lot.”    

Mia Nicastro

Things like running releases endorphins. German researchers have found that endocannabinoid (the same system in the brain that is affected by the presence of THC) could have a role in producing a runner’s high. At least in mice, that is. A runner’s high is a feeling of reduced stress and a lessened ability to feel pain due to the rush of endorphins and adrenaline. The great thing about a runner’s high is, it’s not only felt by runners. After a hard practice or game most athletes report feeling something similar, if not identical, to a runner’s high. Endorphins are considered a “happy chemical”. Other happy chemicals are serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals trigger neurotransmitters in the brain, improving athletes’ moods and decreasing stress. 

Overall, high school sports are a great way to make new friends, decrease stress and anxieties, and be a part of something bigger than just themselves.