How watching live sports in the crowd improves our mental health | National

By James Gamble via SWNS

Watching live sporting events may help improve our well-being and make us feel less lonely, a new study finds.

A survey of more than 7,000 adults found that those who went to watch live sports — whether amateurs or professionals — scored better than those who didn’t in terms of life satisfaction.

The large-scale study is the first ever to examine the benefits of attending sporting events.

It claims that the effects on life feeling more “worth it” are similar to the boost of getting a job.

The authors of the groundbreaking study say these boosts come from live sports promoting “group identity” and a sense of “belonging.”

The researchers at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge believe that attending sporting events could be used as an effective public health tool to improve loneliness and well-being.

The study authors highlighted the fact that while many current initiatives promote the benefits of physical participation in sports, few have previously studied the mental health benefits associated with watching live sporting events.

The academics of Anglia Ruskin University’s School of Psychology and Sport Science analyzed the results of the Taking Part Survey, conducted between 2019 and 2020.

The survey surveyed 7,209 adults aged 16 to 85 living in England and was commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The results showed that those who attended live sporting events scored higher on two key measures of subjective well-being: life satisfaction and a sense that life is “worth living.”

The magnitude of the increase in the sense that life was worth living was so great that it was even comparable to the boost of finding a job.

Attending sporting events, from local cricket and football teams to vital Premier League games, also reduced loneliness.

These observations are even more common when considered alongside previous studies, which found that similarly high life satisfaction scores were associated with fewer life-limiting conditions and better physical health, successful aging, and lower mortality rates.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Helen Keyes, hopes her team’s research can help shape future public health strategies in the UK, such as offering discounts on ticket prices to certain people.

Keyes explained: “Previous research has focused on specific sports or samples of small populations, such as college students in the United States.

“Our study is the first study to look at the benefits of attending a sporting event for an adult population, and so our findings may be useful for shaping future public health strategies, such as offering reduced ticket prices to certain groups. .”

Just being in the crowd and watching live sports improves our mental health, whether your team wins or loses, Keyes claims.

Keyes said this was evidence of the “powerful effect” of watching live sports.

“We know from other studies that when the team you support wins, we want to identify more strongly with our team, and this is especially the case for supporters with low personal self-esteem,” she said.

“In psychology, we call this ‘basking in reflected glory’ – it’s a way of ‘holding on’ to the success of the team we support.

“In our own research, we showed something that might appeal to something else: that being in a crowd with other fans improves some aspects of well-being and reduces loneliness across the board – regardless of whether the team wins or loses.

“This shows a really powerful effect of being with others in support of a common goal.”

Keyes added that while further research is needed on the differences in well-being between supporting different teams and the level at which the sport you watch is played, her team’s study proved that live sport offered opportunities for social interaction that was available in few other environments.

She said: “The live events covered in the survey ranged from free amateur events, such as watching village sports teams, to Premier League football matches.

Therefore, further research needs to be done to see if these benefits are more pronounced for elite sport, or more closely related to supporting a specific team.

“However, we know that watching all types of live sports offers many opportunities for social interaction and this helps to forge group identity and belonging, which in turn reduces loneliness and increases levels of well-being.”

The research has been published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Public Health.

How watching live sports in the crowd improves our mental health | National

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