top of page

Watching sports can boost well-being, study finds

Sports are more than just a pastime; they are a communal experience that brings people together, fostering a sense of belonging and connection
Sports are more than just a pastime; they are a communal experience that brings people together, fostering a sense of belonging and connection. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)


Sports are more than just a pastime; they are a communal experience that brings people together, fostering a sense of belonging and connection. While it's widely acknowledged that watching sports can have positive effects on individuals and society as a whole, existing studies on this relationship are limited.


To address this gap, Associate Professor Shintaro Sato from Waseda University in Japan, along with Assistant Professor Keita Kinoshita from Nanyang Technological University and Dr. Kento Nakagawa from Waseda University, conducted a groundbreaking study to explore the connection between sports viewing and well-being.


 
 

Their research, published online in Sports Management Review, used a multi-method approach combining secondary data analysis, self-reports, and neuroimaging measures to understand this connection.


The first study analyzed data from 20,000 Japanese residents, confirming the positive association between regular sports viewing and reported well-being. However, it couldn't delve deeper into the specifics of this relationship.


Researchers investigate the impact of watching sports on well-being, utilizing diverse methods including data analysis
Researchers investigate the impact of watching sports on well-being, utilizing diverse methods including data analysis, surveys, and neuro-imaging experiments, revealing positive psychological and neurological effects. (CREDIT: Waseda University)


In the second study, 208 participants took part in an online survey to determine if the type of sport watched affected well-being. The results showed that popular sports like baseball had a greater impact on enhancing well-being compared to less popular sports like golf.


 
 

The most significant findings emerged from the third study, where neuroimaging techniques were used to examine changes in brain activity during sports viewing. Fourteen participants' brain activity was monitored while they watched sports clips.


The results revealed activation in the brain's reward circuits, indicating feelings of happiness or pleasure.


 

Related Stories:

 

Furthermore, analysis of structural brain images showed that individuals who watched sports more frequently had greater gray matter volume in regions associated with reward circuits, suggesting that regular sports viewing might lead to structural changes in the brain over time.


Prof. Sato highlighted the importance of both subjective and objective measures of well-being in their research. He suggested that regularly watching sports, especially popular ones like baseball or soccer, could positively influence both well-being and brain structure, providing long-term benefits.


 
 

This study has significant implications for sports management literature, as it considers the broader general population rather than just sports fans. It could also inform sports management practices and public health policies, emphasizing the potential benefits of sports viewing for overall well-being.


Shintaro Sato, Ph.D., currently serves as an Associate Professor at Waseda University's Faculty of Sport Sciences and directs the Sport & Entertainment Management Lab. He earned his doctoral degree from the University of Florida and has held academic positions at institutions including Georgia Southern University and Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University.


Additionally, he served as a visiting researcher at the Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business and City University of New York, and as a Ph.D. supervisor at the University of Ottawa.


 
 

With a strong commitment to leveraging the potential of sports, Prof. Sato has spearheaded numerous research endeavors and authored several papers in esteemed international academic journals.






For more science news stories check out our New Discoveries section at The Brighter Side of News.


 

Note: Materials provided above by PLOS. Content may be edited for style and length.


 
 

Like these kind of feel good stories? Get the Brighter Side of News' newsletter.


 

Comments


Most Recent Stories

bottom of page