Playing sports and regularly exercising are great ways to keep yourself physically fit and healthy. Following a regular fitness routine can also improve your immune system, strengthen your muscles, and reduce your risk of heart disease later in life. 

Exercise is also great for your mental health. Exercise can improve your self-efficacy, and working up a sweat releases endorphins that make you feel great. 

If you play a sport or attend an exercise group, you’ll also reap the social benefits of interacting with like-minded, fitness-focused people. 

Social Anxiety & Sport

Fifteen million Americans have social anxiety. If you suffer from social anxiety, you may have a hard time interacting with peers in situations like bars, coffee shops, or restaurants. 

These situations emphasize your ability to engage with friends to make conversation and are sure to trigger anxiety. 

Sport can be a great way to negotiate social anxiety while socializing with others. When playing a sport, you’re more focused on achieving the objective of the game you are playing. This may distract you from social anxiety triggers and help you engage with other people while you have fun. 

Sport can be a great way to reintroduce yourself if you are suffering from pandemic-induced anxiety. As licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Kruti Patel, Ph.D. explains, many people have developed “fears about re-entering society and engaging with people.” 

If this sounds familiar, you may want to register with your local tennis club or hockey team to help ease yourself back into your social life. 

Stress Reduction

Exercising is well known for its stress-busting benefits. It’s hard to feel gloomy or overwhelmed when you’ve laced up your running shoes or have just scored a winning goal.

You can maximize the stress-reducing potential of fitness by learning to relax after a workout. Start with a great cooldown to reduce your cognitive stress and take on as much water as you need to feel satiated. 

You can even book yourself in for a massage if you need some assistance with working out hard-to-reach muscles. 

It's worth bearing in mind that fitness and sports can sometimes be a source of your stress. Learning to navigate the pressure of a competitive sport is part of the joy of playing, and is an important part of your character development. 

You might find pressure-busting mental exercises like visualization and calming practices can help reduce sport-related stress and ensure you get the most from your favorite hobby, 

Exercising With a Physical Disability

Just like anyone else, folks with a disability can benefit from a regular fitness routine. It may require some adjustments and reasonable accommodations, but exercise can be a great way to overcome some of the barriers you may face.

You know your disability better than anyone else. However, it's still worth reaching out to fitness clubs and organizations to see if they offer adapted services to help you use their facilities. 

Many gyms now offer workout plans and machinery that is made to help everyone have a great workout regardless of their ability. 

If you are more interested in the social benefits of exercise, you may want to consider adaptive sports like wheelchair basketball, blind-variants of ball games, or adaptive combat sports like judo and boxing. 

If you’re looking for a slower pace of play, you could consider a new hobby like metal detecting. Metal detecting is great for folks who suffer from chronic pain as it relies more on a sharp, attentive mind than demanding physical exercise. 

You’ll still work up a sweat moving about, much like folks who play golf to improve their fitness. 

Skills & Self Efficacy

Learning new skills at the gym or your club is a great way to build self-belief and improve your confidence. Nailing a gymnastic sequence or lifting a new PR lifts your spirits and can help you feel that much better about life and the progress you are making. 

Following a fitness routine can also give you the confidence to try out other skills. Seeing yourself progress in the gym or in a sport can foster greater self-belief. This self-belief can transfer to other areas of your life like your relationships and career. 

You don’t need to follow any particular fitness routine to develop higher self-efficacy and confidence. Just learning how to squat with a barbell or completing a yoga flow can boost your self-belief. 

Try to adjust your expectations and have reasonable standards for your performance. You aren’t going to out-lift Thor on your first day at the gym, but you can attempt to nail your form with weights that feel appropriate to you. 


A regular fitness routine can boost your physical and mental health. Getting a good workout can help you blow off steam and reduce your stress. If you exercise with a group, you’ll also benefit from social time spent with like-minded peers. 

Just remember to adjust your expectations and ask for any reasonable accommodations that you may need. 


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