The sports community can literally lift your spirits.
Football season is upon us once again. Whether you’re a casual fan or a true fanatic, cheering for
your team can bring highs and lows. But did you know that it can also encourage good health?
That’s not just some lip service from ESPN. Research shows that sports fans are active, engaged,
and in better health, thanks to their allegiance with a favorite team. Here are some of the specific
Sense of community: Sports fans have a built-in connection with others and with their
environment. Feeling like a part of something is important for well-being. For sports fans, the
simple act of going to a game or wearing a team shirt can create opportunities to connect. Maybe
it’s a conversation in line at the concession stand, or a stranger giving you a high-five for
wearing your gear out on the street. These bonds are building blocks of our emotional wellbeing.
Positive outlook: Sports fans aren’t more aggressive than folks who don’t follow sports. Instead,
they’re actually less lonely and have higher self-esteem. Even if they don’t watch a game with
other fans, just knowing they’re part of a larger group has long-term effects. Fans report lower
levels of depression. They’re also less lonely, even when the game isn’t on.
Longer life: Research shows that people with strong social networks live longer. And studies
have shown that these relationships help people heal faster after injury and ward off colds. They
can even improve the odds of surviving cancer! Fan communities are real social networks. If fans
feel connected, supported, and active, other areas of their lives will be energized, too.
Inspiration: The stereotype of the couch potato fan is unfair. Many folks who follow sports find
themselves motivated to be active as well. Research shows that watching sports keeps movement
and exercise in people’s minds. And there are even studies that link wearing a favorite team’s
gear while exercising with increased weight loss.
Success: We can all use the adrenaline rush of winning. And in “real” life, that can be hard to
come by. After all, no one cheers when we meet a tough deadline or empty the dishwasher. But
following sports is different. It allows fans to feel victorious, and that’s a joy that can be rare. We
should take it when we can.
There’s a ton of research about how following sports can impact our lives. If you want to learn
more, check out “Sports Fans: The Psychology and Social Impact of Spectators.” It’s written by
Daniel L. Wann, who must be a great guy – he’s a fan of the Royals and KU. What was that about community?
Dr. Lynn McIntosh is a board-certified chiropractor. In addition to being licensed to provide
general chiropractic care, she is also a certified chiropractic sports physician, working with
athletes from multiple disciplines on specific sports-related problems. She’s also board-certified
in acupuncture. Learn more at KansasCityChiropractic.com.