Many people count their interest in sports as one of the brightest aspects of life. Sports are seen as something we can do for fun, for ourselves, and even to feed into a natural spirit of competition that lives inside many of us. These are easy positives to understand, though it’s also being discussed more and more of late that being a serious sports fan may actually be bad for your health. Sports fans can have increased stress, greater risk of heart attack, despondency, and even susceptibility to advertising, gambling, or even junk food binges. Altogether the negatives paint a fairly bleak picture of the modern sports fan’s health and wellness.
Some might argue that the best solution is simply not to engage with sports. However, for plenty this just isn’t a very realistic or appealing option. So how can you continue to love your favourite sports and teams without opening yourself up to some of those hazards? Ultimately it comes down to discipline and internal calm, but we have a few ideas you might want to consider.
Watch Sports In Public
It’s almost a silly point to make, but when you watch sports in public, you’re probably less likely to overreact to the action. There’s an exception, of course, if you’re in a bar packed with like-minded fans of your favorite team. Otherwise though, an outburst in a public space is so socially unacceptable that you might in fact cope with the highs and lows of a game in a healthier manner. At home you’re free to jump up and scream in elation, or throw a pillow at your screen and curse in frustration. At a sports bar or similar venue, it might suffice just to smile or shake your head.
Change How You Snack
This comes down purely to discipline, but let’s face it, unhealthy snacks are part of being a sports fan for a lot of people. Just look through this list of popular Super Bowl snacks if you don’t buy into the idea. Granted, that’s a major event and it’s famously associated with eating, but the trend holds up in other sports as well. Go to a live game and you may eat nachos or popcorn, and have a beer or soda or two. Watch at home and you might order in wings or make your famous cheese dip. There’s just a tendency to want to relax and indulge as you enjoy your favorite team. Changing this does away with one of the major ways in which sports can impact our health.
Bet For Free
It can certainly add to your stress as a sports fan to have too much riding on a given outcome. Many people bet on games, and while this can be done responsibly, it also makes you personally invested in a way that at least has the potential to impact your mood and overall health. So instead, consider betting for free! A lot of major sportsbooks provide free play options for those who like the fun of placing bets but don’t want the stress of risking money. And yes, these free bets are meant to attract you and get you betting more, but you can usually find a free or cheap option even once you get into it.
Skip Daily Fantasy
Daily fantasy sports effectively makes up its own form of sports betting, and it’s become extremely popular. Here, too, you can play for free or for very little amounts of money, so there doesn’t have to be a financial stress factor involved. That said, daily fantasy is inherently meant to provide daily competitions, which means further highs and lows aside form actual sporting outcomes. It’s just a lot to put on yourself if you’re already concerned with how sports might be affecting your wellness.
Study Players, Not Teams
This isn’t a proven scientific concept, to be clear, but it makes some sense that reading about, studying, and following players might be less stressful than latching yourself to the results of a particular team. If you’re invested in players around a league, you can simply follow how they’re doing with interest, and enjoy the games in the meantime. Rooting hard for a given team, on the other hand, opens you up to the kinds of emotional highs and lows that studies have shown can be hard on the heart. So shifting your focus to players more than teams might just make your sports habit healthier.