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The Mental Health Benefits of High Concentration Sports (Like Archery)

The Mental Health Benefits of High Concentration Sports (Like Archery)

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There’s a never ending stream of celebrity confessions about mental health issues (such as this recent one from “The Rock”) at the moment. If it isn’t that it’s a pressure group highlighting the lack of funding given to this growing problem.

Mental health is a modern issue and one that’s seemingly on the rise. Or has it always been this way?

Are mental health issues just a byproduct of our modern lives? What’s the cause?

Here are a few stats on psychological problems we found from nami.org.

  • 1 in 5 adults in the US experiences mental health issues in a year.
  • 1 in 25 adults experiences a serious mental health issue in a year that interferes with their daily life.
  • 1 in 5 youth (aged 13-18) experiences severe mental disorder and for children 8-15 the estimate is approximately one in 8.
  • Mental Illness costs the us $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • Mental health issues are the third most common reason for hospitalization in the US for both youth and adults (aged 18-44).
  • Each day approximately 18-22 veterans die by suicide.

If the hospitals are filling up and all anyone wants to do is give you prescription medications what can individuals do to help themselves?

How high concentration sports can help

When we exercise, the brain releases certain chemicals which can help with mood and alleviate issues such as anxiety and depression.

Sport in general is very much in vogue at the moment, not just for the evident physical health benefits but for the well documented effect that physical activity can have on the mind. Physical activity and sport has a huge part to play in promoting and sustaining good mental health.

Collective sport, where we engage with other people also promotes our mental health as it offers interaction with others, fundamental for a healthy mind and outlook.

High concentration sports are a great elixir for those struggling with mental health issues.

The demand for concentration varies with the sport and is divided into three types:-

  • Intense concentration – used in sports like sprinting, target archery, darts
  • Short burst concentration – evident in golf and cricket
  • Sustained concentration – relevant to sports such as long distance running

Success in high concentration sports requires learning techniques to concentrate intensely for short periods of time. These sports train the brain to concentrate on the here and now, to ignore negative self-talk and doubt by utilizing positive self-talk. removing unhelpful thoughts and emotions and putting them to one side for a defined period of time.

From this, it is easy to understand why these techniques used by successful athletes in high concentration sports, can have a positive effect on almost anyone.

Let’s take Archery as an example

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Archery as a target sport requires high levels of concentration.

The practice of good shooting is a mindful one.

Archery requires intense short-burst concentration through the shot cycle. From picking a target and nocking an arrow to raising, drawing, aiming and release, the participant needs to intently concentrate on all aspects to achieve good form. This is necessary to create a repeatable process that leads to consistent aim and good shot groupings.

That process of concentration throughout the shot is one where the mind is encouraged to blank out all negative thoughts and focus solely on itself. Correct placement of your fingers on the string. The touch of your hand to your face when you anchor the shot. The push and pull in your arms. Slow and steady breathing. Tension in your back throughout the release. All this is only possible when the mind is fully in the here and now.

Becoming more aware of immediate physical sensations and our environment allows us to understand and process our mental traffic; it’s not about changing it but more the ability to disassociate ourselves from it and see it for what it is which is something that does not need to govern and define our lives.

Mindfulness is a heightened state of self-awareness, a way of slowing down the moment and focusing only on that point in time, developing deep levels of consciousness, of how the body feels rather than by being solely driven by the constant jumble of thoughts and emotions in our heads.

How you benefit

High levels of focus and concentration give rise to these faculties and emotions:

  • Mindfulness – Focus and concentration
  • Patience
  • Motivation
  • Self-efficacy

This can lead onto the following, positive lifestyle developments:

  • Reduced levels of stress and depression
  • A lessened anxiety level
  • Improvements in sleep patterns
  • Sharpened mind and mental faculties including memory

There are other indirect benefits that can come from taking part in archery:

  • Healthy competition
  • Co-operation
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership skills
  • Relaxation
  • Improved social skills
  • Self-esteem improvements
  • Fun and enjoyment!
  • New experiences and friendships

More than just the mind

It is possible for the young, the old and the less physically able to participate at the archery range. But does target archery offer any physical benefit?

You may be surprised to learn that an average female can burn up to 144 calories an hour doing just that at an archery range.Target shooting at modest ranges with medium power compound bows isn’t as physical as a gym session would be, but it IS physical and you will see benefits like these:

  • Balance
  • Core strength
  • Hand-Eye Co-ordination
  • Flexibility
  • Upper body strength development

Archery isn’t the only sport that does these things. There are other less popular ranged sports like skeet, clay pigeon shooting, and in the US hunting! Hunting involves much more than just shooting as there’s usually a decent hike added on before the thrill of the hunt begins.

Don’t always look to the main sports pages when you’re seeking out a new passion.

There is loads of useful resources on this and other target sports at targetcrazy.com.

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