There are many reasons to participate in fantasy sports. Of course, it’s fun and competitive however, surprisingly, there are multiple health benefits as well. As a person ages, mental reflexes become slower because the brain doesn’t process information as efficiently as it once did. Like any muscle, a brain needs exercise to function properly. If we want our bodies and brains to remain healthy and active well into our senior years, there are specific steps we can begin now to ensure we maximize our chances for good health. For example, to reduce our risk of dementia, the Mayo Clinic recommends acquiring new skills and finding creative ways to stimulate our thinking.
Health and Wellness Benefits Of Fantasy Football
Playing fantasy football might just be one of the more fun and engaging ways to promote brain health. Numerous studies have shown that playing fantasy sports can improve a person’s mental acuity through cognitive stimulation. The challenge of drafting a fantasy football team coupled with the strategy of optimizing a weekly lineup requires clear, focused thinking and sharp deductive skills. Our brains work more efficiently when challenged regularly with new stimuli. Best of all, playing fantasy enhances the enjoyment of watching the sport.
Fantasy managers feel a real connection with their chosen players and are vested in how they perform each week. Developing a personal connection with a player creates a perception of intimacy and boosts brain-healing serotonin levels. Suddenly, you’re not just cheering for your home team each week, you’re also rooting for each designated player in your lineup to score. However, celebrating your team’s scoring is only one aspect of healthy mental stimulation. Lurking in the background is the ever-present threat of injury to a Fantasy team member and the corresponding need to mentally pivot to adjust for coverage gaps throughout the season.
In addition, the lure of competition sparks our excitement and boosts our pleasure-seeking Dopamine levels. This brain-boosting hormone can improve our memory, concentration, and ability to sleep, which are all leading indications of a healthy brain. The thrill we achieve from pursuing a league championship will generate more Dopamine, triggering further feelings of satisfaction and motivation.
Another characteristic of a healthy brain is experiencing positive social interactions. Healthy social relationships are a strong indicator of overall physical and mental wellness. A lack of social contact can lead to feelings of depression and isolation. Joining a fantasy league offers an additional social outlet. Rather than feeling lonely, isolated, or depressed, fantasy football offers the opportunity to connect with others within a community of members who share a common passion. Communication is easier since conversations often turn to discussions about the league, who they’re playing that week, and how their team is faring.
Instead of struggling to make small talk in social situations, fantasy managers can chat for hours over their shared passion for football and fantasy. When sharing a fantasy league with family and friends, there’s the added element of high-spirited competition and one-upmanship that leads to mood-boosting serotonin levels. After all, winning a family Fantasy League provides priceless bragging rights for at least a year.
Staying Physically Active
Yet another advantage of joining a fantasy league is the physical aspect. Remaining active and keeping our bodies moving each day is another characteristic of good physical and mental health. Daily physical exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline. In addition, staying physically active lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Attending NFL or UFL football games in person provides a tremendous opportunity for increased physical activity when walking around a stadium and climbing stairs. But even if you’re getting together with family and friends to watch a game on TV, it’s hard to remain seated when a member of your Fantasy team’s defense suddenly picks off the quarterback and runs it back 46 yards for a touchdown. Suddenly you’re on your feet right along with him, hollering and cheering every step of the way.
Fantasy football provides not only the opportunity to follow your favorite sport but also to get to know an individual player’s strengths and weaknesses in a way you never before imagined while boosting your own physical and mental well-being. Quite simply, it’s hard to find a more enjoyable way to get healthy.