Watching sports actually improves well-being. Science says so!

Watching sports actually improves well-being.  Science says so!

Good news as the Olympic Games approach and in the middle of the final phase of the Champions League! According to a new study based on neuroimaging, the simple act of watching sport (on TV or in the stands) concretely increases the feeling of well-being. We’ll explain how.

Watching a match of your favorite club, especially when they race to victory, makes us happy! But this link between sport on TV and the feeling of well-being has never really been studied scientifically. It is now done, thanks to a Japanese team.

Sport increases the feeling of well-being

To study this link from all angles, the team from the Faculty of Human Sciences at Waseda University used a multi-method approach, that is to say combining the analysis of secondary data, self-assessments and neuroimaging measurements.

“A significant challenge in well-being research lies in the subjective nature of measurement procedures, which can lead to biased results. Therefore, our studies focused on subjective and objective measures of well-being”explains Professor Sato, author of the study.

Thus, in a first study, researchers analyzed large-scale public data on the influence of sport on 20,000 Japanese residents. The results of this study confirmed the current trend of high well-being associated with regular viewing of sporting events. However, this study was limited by its inability to provide deeper insights into the relationship between sports consumption and well-being.

A second study, an online survey of 208 participants, aimed to determine whether the link between sporting event viewing and well-being varied depending on the type of sport viewed. The experiment exposed them to various sports videos, assessing their well-being before and after watching. The results highlighted that the most popular sports had a more significant impact on improving well-being than less unifying sports.

Brain imaging reveals reward mechanism

However, the most innovative aspect of this research came in the third study, when the team used neuroimaging techniques to examine changes in brain activity following watching sporting events.

Using multimodal MRI neuroimaging measurement procedures, the brain activity of fourteen able-bodied Japanese participants was analyzed while they watched sports clips. Results ? Watching sporting events triggered activation of the brain’s reward circuits, revealing feelings of happiness or pleasure.

Additionally, individuals who reported watching sports more frequently had greater gray matter volume in regions associated with reward circuits, suggesting that watching sports regularly could gradually induce changes in brain structures.

Sustainable changes to take into account

“Subjective and objective measures of well-being have been found to be positively influenced by participation in sports activities. By inducing structural changes in the brain’s reward system over time, this promotes long-term benefits for individuals. concludes the team.

In fact, if you’re looking to improve your overall well-being, watching sports regularly can be an effective remedy. For the team of researchers, this research can contribute significantly to sports management practices and the development of public health policies. Like going to support your favorite team?