Sport delivers a feel-good factor

SPORT and physical activity make people feel better about their bodies, even if they don’t lose weight or change shape, a new international study has found.

Researchers from the University of Toronto looked at more than 200 studies from Australia and other countries. 

The Canadian researchers found being active led to people feeling more positive about their bodies, and not just because it changed the way they looked. 

“Physical activity is more important than the observable, measurable, and perceived changes that result from the behaviour,” lead author Professor Catherine Sabiston and her team reported in Psychology of Sport and Exercise journal. 

“Physical activity and sport impose actual changes to the physical self, for example, weight, body shape, and appearance,” she said. But it also “builds self-efficacy and confidence that all lead to improvements in body image,” she said.

Researchers also found having a good body image led to greater participation in physical activity and sport. 

Dr Deb Agnew, senior lecturer in sport, health and physical activity at Flinders University, said being active “helps build self-esteem and teaches people life skills”. 

That’s a view shared by Emma Gent and her teammates in the Cheltenham Rosellas netball team, who play in the Southern Football Netball League senior competition. 

Emma said: “I play sport because it is good for my mental and physical health. Being involved in team sport is so rewarding, as you can make lifelong friends while achieving personal goals in skills and fitness.” 

But Australian health data shows nearly one in three 18 to 54 year-olds do not do 150 minutes of physical activity in a week and 14 per cent do no exercise at all.

** This story originally appeared in the Herald Sun.