T he most popular sport in the USA! like as American Football
About 1M high school, you wear.
70K collegiate and 2000 professional participants yearly. And yes, all physical activity is beneficial! And even team sports have beneficial effects on our youth! But is there more to this than meets the eye??
Of course, there is! Hello! Okay, so because it’s Super Bowl Sunday today! I though, what better topic to tackle? PUN INTENDED!.✓
So let’s get into what these benefits are but also what the possible long term implications to a football player’s health may be. Because if you weren’t curious before… I bet you are now!
Let’s do a quick run down of the benefits of playing football, and especially a team sport.
Mental Health Improvement and Mood
a. Exercise releases endorphins and makes you feel happy! It can help improve symptoms of certain mental health issues such as anxiety, PTSD, depression, etc. Exercise also alleviates the physical symptoms of fibromyalgia.✓
a. There has been a huge increase in the rates of childhood obesity in the last decade, and participating in any type of physical activity is beneficial to a child’s health. So yes! Definitely, play sports!.✓
a. It helps you concentrate, even improves cognition later in life, and if you have ADHD can improve your attention and impulse control. Great benefits!
a. By improving your sensitivity to insulin. Exercise of any kind helps keep your blood sugar in check, and if you have type 2 diabetes, it helps maintain lower sugar levels too. So it’s good for diabetics and nondiabetics alike.
a. The more you move, the more your bowels moving!
a. In fact, it has been shown that team exercise has a stronger effect on continuing to engage in exercise than individual exercise. The team sport, regardless of the type of sport, has also been shown to improve self-confidence, and also lends itself to a sense of belonging; Things that are extremely important, especially in today’s era of bullying and low self-esteem issues.
How about the health implications? Keep in mind that this is NOT meant to keep you all from engaging in American Football. Just as with any sport, health risks, and injuries are possibilities. But I bet you don’t think of those very often unless it benches your favorite player!.✓
As in any team, there are differences in the roles a player will have. To make it simple.. players on the line of offense and even defense need power. To push the other line, to block the offense and protect the quarterback from getting sacked! Okay, so admittedly I’m more of a fútbol fanatic (soccer) being Colombian and all, but I also know other sports too!
So what are possible health effects?
Obese Range BMI
- Now, another thing to mention is that many football players have higher Body Mass Indexes (BMI). BMI that in the general population is classified as obese (BMI>30). Because of the different roles players can have, a difference in body mass index (BMI) was seen between those who were linemen (defense and offense) compared to those who were non-line men. You know, the ones that run to score! The Quarter back, the kicker.
High Blood Pressure and Coronary Artery Disease
- In general, NFL players were found to have a higher blood pressure than healthy young adults in one study. But there have been some differences between the pre-season and post-season blood pressures. It turns out that before the season starts, blood pressures are lower, and after the season, their blood pressures are higher. No clear cut decision has been made on whether or not these have any long term health effects. I think like all things in medicine; more research is needed..✓
Sleep Disordered Breathing
- Because of the elevated BMI in many of the players, they often suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. This means that when they’re sleeping, they have a few seconds of no breathing at all (apnea). A big snore wakes them slightly from a deep sleep, and they continue to breath. These episodes can also lead to high blood pressure, so it’s not just a breathing problem.
- Did you know that a concussion can increase the person’s risk of suicide 3 fold regardless of whether or not there is any psychiatric history? Many concussions can also increase their risk of depression and even cognitive impairment.✓
Spinal Injuries and Lower Extremity Injuries
- Both of which may require physical rehab to recover.
So, the next time you’re watching your favorite teams play, and you see the tackles and the jumps and the sacks. I hope you realize just how much stress these players are putting their bodies through. Admire their dedication to a sport that can hurt them just as much as help them. Yes, its entertainment, but it has so much to do with health and wellness too, just like everything else in life.