By Dr. Timothy & Melissa Quinn
Jackson Advocate Guest Writers
During this difficult Coronavirus pandemic, I’ve seen many patients suffer from various physical and psychological problems that can be helped by watching sports on television. Several of my patients have suffered from decreased physical activity, decreased socializing, and decreased optimism. I watched a video by Dr. Jennifer Caudle, who is a physician that I highly regard and has a large social media following. In this video, she references multiple reasons why watching sports is good for your mental and physical health.
Examples that she provided included psychological benefits. I really enjoy watching Sunday afternoon football with my wife, Melissa, and our dog, Holly. It is really a fun experience. We would call my dad, my brother, and other friends who are for or against our teams. We actually talk about the games during the week with great anticipation. There are some teams that we are in agreement about and some we disagree about, but at the end of the day, we are a Cowboys house!
Some of the psychological benefits include the stress release that results from all the positive energy associated with cheering for your team (unless your team is playing against the Cowboys). Watching sports gives you an opportunity to take your mind off many of your stressors and worries. This is an opportunity to enjoy the happier thoughts and emotions associated with cheering for your team. Studies have connected watching sports to individuals being less lonely and having higher self-esteem compared to those who do not watch sports. Some studies have concluded that sports spectators, in many scenarios, have a feeling of community with fellow sports spectators which helps to satisfy a need for comradery.
There are certain neurochemicals released in your brain when watching sports, including dopamine and decreased stress hormones (cortisol) released in your bloodstream. These chemical changes are actually associated with a lower blood pressure and a decreased potential for heart disease. We can actually find ourselves motivated after watching the NBA finals or the Wimbledon Championship to go out and physically shoot a few baskets or hit a few balls on the tennis court. Any motivation to obtain physical activity is definitely recommended. We also want to mention all the jumping and screaming associated when your team scores a touchdown. When Dak Prescott ran a touchdown a couple of Sundays ago, Melissa did the “running man” for ten minutes. She wanted me to film a TikTok video, but we forgot about it when the other team scored. All of this positive energy counts!
Watching sports is a fun experience that can be beneficial in many ways, but we want to encourage everyone to remember to try to incorporate healthy food selections while enjoying your favorite team. We suggest replacing the chips, pizza, and beer with substitutions to include fruits, nuts, and sandwiches. Water is the best option, but if beer is a must, light beer with a limit of two cans is better. Melissa and I usually get our exercise in before watching sports which we encourage for everyone. With healthy dietary alternatives, and a little exercise before the game, you are in a better position to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of cheering for your favorite team!