· This drove me to research and present

To Define good and bad mental

educate people about mental health issues

show the effect that sport has on mental health

find out if certain sports are better for your mental health than others








There were several topic options for my PE
project but I decided to research sports and mental health. Mental health is a
very large subject that is often not talked about enough and when it is talked
about only certain parts of it are discussed. This drove me to research and
present an insightful and educational project about how sport and physical
activity can help you to maintain good mental health and to help with the
treatment of mental health issues.

I will start by explaining what good
mental health is and talking about good and bad mental health as well as different
mental health issues.  Then I will go on
to show the effect sport can have on your mental health and happiness short to
long term.

And finally I shall investigate the
different effects sport can have and compare them.    


Background Research:


In doing research for my project I needed
not only to understand the effect that sports has on our mental health but also
about some basic mental health issues and factors that can effect our mental
health. For this reason I went on to www.nhs.uk and read up about mental
health. This website also helped me to find basic information about some metal
illnesses for later on in my project.

In order to find information for the
first part of my project I visited www.who.int this gave me the definition
of mental health that highlights the important aspects of mental health and

the next section of my project was about
different mental health issues. For this I went onto the Anxiety and Depression
Association of America (ADAA) website. They had lists of information about some
mental illnesses in their ‘Facts and Statistics’ section.

I found a lot of the information for my
final two sections on the same websites as well as from personal experience.

One website I found particularly useful was www.believepreform.com it gave me a lot of
information about the effect physical activity has on your body and your mental
health. I also visited the HSE website. Here I found information about certain
brain chemicals and what kind of exercise you should do in order to improve
your mental heath.



Main Body:

Good and Bad Mental Health


 Good Mental health has been defined as ‘a state
of well being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can
cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully,
and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’ – World Health
Association (WHO).  It also refers to a person’s
emotional well being, which is a very delicate and often neglected.


mental health or mental illness can cover a broad range of disorders. The
common characteristic is that the all affect person’s personality, thought processes
or social interactions. They can be difficult to diagnose clearly, unlike
physical illness. Mental illness can feel and be just as bad or even worse than
physical illness.

       Some consider mental health to be a constantly
fluctuating scale that we move               up and down on depending on a
number of factors in our lives including your work and social life.



Mental Health


It is estimated that one in four or five of us will experience some
mental health problems in our lifetime. For that reason it’s important to
understand the basic facts of mental health, for this reason it is important to
be able to recognise signs of mental health problems and understand  types of mental health problems. I will now
give some information about some of the most common mental illnesses in


Stress: While some
forms of stress can be positive and even helpful, high stress levels can
negatively alter your world view, how you act, your confidence and even how
much energy you have to get through the day. 

Anxiety: Anxiety is a
common experience, however on going anxiety can be overwhelming and
exhausting.  Anxiety can strike at any time and can seriously impact a person’s

Panic attacks: Characterised
by episodes of intense fear or high levels of anxiety, panic attacks can come
and go quickly.

Depression: Depression is a step beyond having a bad day or
feeling down. If you are feeling down or low, and the symptoms interfere with
your everyday life for two weeks or more, you might be experiencing

Self-harm: Self-harming is
a way of dealing with emotional distress in which an individual causes mild to
serious harm to himself or herself.

Suicidal thoughts: Suicidal
thoughts come after a long battle with a serious mental illness. They are an
extreme and very serious form of mental illness but with help and lots of
support they can be overcome.

·       Eating disorders:
Eating disorders are complex and can involve unhealthy eating
patterns such as binge eating and purging and restricting eating. 
Sadly a common eating disorder in Ireland is Anorexia Nervosa.



The effect
sport has on your Mental Health


Now that we understand what mental health is and some common
mental health illnesses we can begin to look at the effect sport can have on
your mental health and mood.

There have been many publications citing the mental health
benefits of physical activity. It has been proven that regular exercise can reduce
stress, ward off anxiety and feelings of depression, boost self-esteem and
improve sleep.

When you exercise your body releases chemicals called
endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that
reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in
the body. For example the feeling that follows a run or workout is often
descried as ‘euphoric’. That feeling is commonly known as ‘runners high’ and
can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life that proves
very effective in the treatment of a number of mental illnesses.  Regular exercise will also combat stress and
release tension. It also encourages your brain to release the chemical
serotonin, which can improve your mood. The release of these chemicals is
beneficial as one of the causes of mental health problems can be an imbalance
of the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline in the brain.

There are benefits from the social interaction and mutual
support resulting from participating in-group exercise. Not only does group
exercise provide a stimulating atmosphere that can push you to work harder than
you would if exercising alone but it provides a social atmosphere that offers camaraderie
and accountability amongst participants and their instructor. This kind of
participation in a sport boosts feelings of well being and decreases feelings
of depression.

Improved self-esteem is a key psychological benefit of
regular physical activity. After a while participating in a new exercise
routine you will notice it gradually becoming easier as you become fitter. This
is something to be proud of and leads you to keep going and keep pushing
yourself. This setting of fitness goals is also of positive benefit to your
mental health.  

The HSE say to aim to do a minimum of Thirty minutes a day
of moderate exercise, at least five days a week. Moderate exercise should make you
feel slightly out of breath and tired. Going for a brisk walk is a good



Are certain
sports better for our mental health than others?


Being active doesn’t have to mean taking out an expensive
gym membership, jogging at five in the morning or sporting Lycra. There are so
many ways to be physically active and they can all help to improve your mental

I have found that all kinds of physical activity provide
that burst of endorphins I talked about earlier. However the amount is
proportional to how strenuous your chosen activity is. The camaraderie of a
group sport or even a fitness class such as crossfit have the added benefit of
allowing you to unwind and engage in a satisfying challenge while you improve
your fitness. For this reason I believe that team sports or group activities
are of more benefit to your mental health. This being said all forms of
activity are beneficial and I feel that it may depend of your nature, which you






Throughout the process of doing my PE project I have learned
that the relationship between sports and mental health is a very positive one. Sports
and physical activity affect your mood, physical health and happiness. I now
believe even more that everyone should take part in some form of physical
activity. No matter what form it takes, personally I like to go swimming and
have recently completed my swimming task for my bronze Gaisce award; all forms
of physical activity have a positive effect on your mental health.

Use sports to support your mental health!



I'm Mary!

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