Most people are already aware that sports are beneficial for our physical health. On top of that, it becomes increasingly clear that participating in sports can positively affect our mental health by improving our mood, concentration and sleeping habits, which can be directly linked to the reduction of stress levels and depression.
To really understand the impact of sport on people with differing backgrounds and varying age ranges, Better has interviewed five people with truly captivating stories. The illustrations below demonstrate these stories, and will hopefully inspire others to not let their age or disability restrain them from doing anything in life and motivate to get active.
‘’Cricket has provided me with a new thirst for life. It really has turned my life around completely and has put me in a much happier place. I’m really looking forward to what’s in store for me!’’
Alison (54) proves that a learning disability doesn’t mean that one can’t be open to taking on new challenges and trying new experiences. She is hugely enthusiastic and passionate about being active and playing cricket. This growing sporting prowess has led her to try out several new sports; from squash to badminton, nothing is out of reach for Alison! Though having a learning disability may sometimes mean it’s difficult to keep focus, cricket has really turned Alison’s life around completely and put her in a much happier place. So much so, that it has inspired her to pay it forward by volunteering to teach the homeless and people with mental health problems.
‘’I want to encourage other women to get the fun out of sport and exercise that I have had. It's not to get us oldies living longer, but enable us to live life to the fullest, independently and happily.’’
Eddie (74) still frequently takes part in triathlons. Although she loves to run, she now prefers cycling as it is not as painful on her knees. Not only does partaking in sports give her a lot of new energy and confidence, it also helps her sleep better. This in turn has an enormous and positive impact on her stress levels as well as physical health problems. Eddie is the living proof that age doesn’t have to restrict anyone from partaking in sports and living life to the fullest!
‘’I really was in a bad place before I started playing. I am now trying to focus on the present and to enjoy the journey that I’m on.’’
Suzanne (30) was paralysed in 2011 after an accident whilst she was in Morocco, now 6 years ago. Instead of letting her disability prevent her from doing the things she loves, Suzanne is incredibly strong-minded and has become a fantastic tennis player. Of course, there were times when she was very angry about her accident, but playing tennis has made her more open-minded, focused and optimistic about the future. With the help of her coach Luke, she found new confidence and encouragement to be strong and grateful.
’’The smell of swimming pools is a smell that I love and brings back lots of good memories even though I had some bad ones.’’
Sylvia (48) was severely burnt as a four-year-old after falling into boiling hot water. For years, she’s struggled to come to terms with the fact that her body is covered in scar tissue. Last year, she decided to stop hiding and come out in the open. Swimming has helped her go to a much happier place, as it has made her feel normal again. By expanding her social circle in the swimming pools, she doesn’t feel any pressure or that she’s being judged. Of course, she’s had many tough years, during which she struggled with mental health issues. But swimming has helped her to feel more relaxed, happy and inspired to help others in need.
‘’Sports gives me new passion in life. It gives us a reason for being there. I think I would feel lost without playing table tennis and badminton.’’
Val, who is a 55+ club leader, talks about how badminton has enlightened her everyday life. She is glad to see that a group of friends between 75 and 80 years old are hardly falling ill and still play sports. It really shows how beneficial it is to your mental & physical Health, especially at a later stage in one’s life. Val believes that one of the major advantages of doing sports is that it brings you into contact with other people. It gives her something to look forward to and feel less lonely. On top of that, her group of (badminton) friends organise various outings together – including trips to the seaside, Christmas dinners and quiz nights!
These stories show that you should never let your background, age, or disability be a reason not to do something you’re passionate about. Instead, let these fascinating stories inspire you to get active and help it benefit your mental and physical health!