5 Surprising Health Benefits Of Being A Sports Fan

Dr. Renee Clauselle was quoted in Dr. Randy Shuck’s Health Headlines on the Central Florida News 13 website on the health benefits of being a sports fan. Read the original article here.

It’s no wonder your friends aren’t available to hang out on Sundays in the fall and winter-according to a 2005 Gallup Poll, 64 percent of Americans claim to be professional football fans, and as of 2010, women make up 44 percent of the NFL fan base.

Being a sports fan doesn’t mean you’re expected to know all the players and stats of your hometown teams and destined for a beer gut-it’s about coming together in the name of good times as part of a community.

“Bonding over sports-the highs and lows of the game-strengthens ties, helps us feel supported, and makes it easier for you to open up about personal things,” says Renee Clauselle, PsyD, who runs a private psychology practice in Long Island, NY.

1. It Inspires You To Get Active

You’ve seen swimmer Dara Torres’ amazing abs. You can’t take your eyes off tennis pro Maria Sharapova’s legs, which go on for days. Watching these lovely ladies (or their male counterparts) do their thing is enough to get you moving. “Whenever I watch a marathon, I’m inspired to run,” says Kathryn Olson, CEO of The Women’s Sports Foundation.

2. Watching Live Sports Is A Workout In Itself

Okay, so watching big, burly dudes toss around the pigskin might not get you to hit the treadmill, but it can help you torch some calories without even trying. The average 150-pound woman burns more than 100 calories per hour attending a live sporting event. And that’s just while sitting! Walking from your car to the stadium, then up eight or more flights of stairs to your seat, is another way to easily torch a few more calories, not to mention leaping from the bench when your team scores a touchdown.

3. You’ll Live Longer

Since research says the odds are that two in five of your girlfriends follow football, consider taking turns hosting a small gathering on Sundays or Monday nights during the season. “It’s nice to have a standing weekly meet-up where you feel connected and part of a group,” says Dr. Clauselle.

Maintaining a strong social network, especially one with healthy pals, improves your chance of living longer by 50 percent.

4. It’s Good For Your Relationships

Research shows sharing a common interest, like college football, may boost your marital bliss.

“The stereotype is that there are many disagreements in relationships over the time spent watching sports, but our evidence says otherwise,” says Lawrence A. Wenner, PhD, a Loyola Marymount University media ethics professor who has studied sports and relationships. ”

Bonus: If his team wins, it could up your chances of getting lucky that night-testosterone, the libido-enhancing hormone, will be surging through his body, and it’s likely he’ll want to keep those good feelings going in the bedroom.

5. It Will Make You Smarter

For better, not worse, watching sports might improve your communication and help you stay organized.

According to a 2008 study from the University of Chicago, scientists discovered that watching a game is a workout for your brain. In the study, a dozen pro- and college-level hockey players, eight hockey fans and nine people who had never seen or played the sport were asked to listen to a broadcast of a hockey game while a machine recorded their brain function.

Afterward, they were each given a test to analyze their comprehension. Results show that athletes and sports fans not only understood the game much better than their counterparts but also experienced brain activity in motor areas associated with planning, controlling, and performing.

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