Healthier Because You Are A Sports Fan? (Yes!)

Healthier Because You Are A Sports Fan? (Yes!)

In 2012, bestselling author, National Geographic Fellow (and hottie) Dan Buettner spoke at Mountainfilm in Telluride. His subject, the blissful “Blue Zones”: places where cultures live longest and happiest, two separate universes, but with distinct overlaps. One common thread: being part of a community. On Superbowl Sunday, people, yes, share chips and dips, but they also share a sense of belonging. Even fair-weather fans get a hit. For more about the ways being part of a sports community can boost your mental health, read this blog by Healthy Living editor Anna Almendrala from the Huff Post.

seahawks fans

It’s easy to be cynical about professional sports — especially the NFL. But despite the disturbing headlines the league earned this year, ranging from lax penalties for domestic violence to a growing awareness of the impact of traumatic brain injuries, there will always be at least one silver lining for professional football.

That would be the undisputed, research-supported evidence that there are very real mental health advantages to claiming a sports team as your own. Yes, there are studies that show blood pressure rises during games or testosterone plummets after a loss. But epic fandom is also linked to higher levels of well-being and general happiness with one’s social life, as well as lower levels of loneliness and alienation, according to research by sports psychology professor Daniel Wann of Murray State University.

Wann, author of the book Sport Fans: The Psychology And Social Impact Of Spectators, explains that there are two routes to feeling good through sports fandom.

“One would be following a successful team, and the second would simply be identifying with them,” Wann told The Huffington Post. “You can get these well-being benefits even if your team doesn’t do well; we’ve found this with historically unsuccessful teams as well,” he added.

In the end, said Wann, it all comes down to how community lifts our spirits. Sports fandom is simply another kind of community, much like the community fostered among costumed Star Wars fans or opera season tickets holders.

“The simple fact is that people are looking for ways to identify with something,…

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