Oct 09, 2015 1:00 AM

Author: Natalie Dicou

Do people tell you that you take your sports fandom too far? That it’s “only a game”? There may be more positive benefits to being a devoted sports fan than many people realize. Check out these reasons why your dedication to your team makes you healthier. 

Sports fans feel a sense of community. Cheering for a common goal, high-fiving strangers, tailgating together before a big game — as a sports fan, you have a community of like-minded friends, which can decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation.

“People like building connections,” said Rick Henriksen, MD, a physician with University of Utah Health who focuses on lifestyle improvement. “If you feel like you’re connected to other people or part of a team, that can be very beneficial to mental health.”

Being a sports fan may inspire people to exercise more to be like the chiseled athletes they worship on TV. 

Enjoying sports can drive people to be more active,” Henriksen said. “If you’re going to be a sports fan, try the sport out. Join a soccer team or flag football league.

Sports fandom can build relationships in fathers and sons who spend time watching games together or in couples who paint each other’s faces before big games. Going to games or even watching them on TV can be a welcome stress reliever and chance for a sports fan to spend a few carefree hours engaged in their team.

For older folks, being a fan can help keep their minds active as they read newspaper articles about how their team performed and analyze and break down games with their fellow fans. And for fans whose teams have a magical season, winning lets people feel vicariously victorious and can raise self-esteem.

Sports fandom often gets a bad wrap, and sometimes rightly so. Many fans are couch potatoes, and others get so carried away during stressful games that they have heart attacks. But there are many psychological benefits to the feelings of connectedness fans experience. Just don’t negate all those positives by sitting around drinking beer all day.

Natalie Dicou

Natalie Dicou is a Communications Specialist in the Office of Public Affairs. Follow her on Twitter @NatalieDicou.

sports medicine heart health

comments powered by Disqus

For Patients

Find a doctor or location close to you so you can get the health care you need, when you need it