Sport and the psychological variables that influence it improving or worsening its performance has been a subject of study of great interest during the last decades. All of this, framed within the discovery and development of positive psychology, has led different researchers to consider what factors are closely related to psychological well-being in sportsmen and women and what are their benefits.

In this article we will review the benefits that sports practice brings to psychological well-being together with the team of UPAD Psychology and Coaching , one of the best centers of sports psychology in the Community of Madrid and in our country.

Exercise and its effects on the mind

Positive psychology aims to integrate all those concepts related to well-being, happiness and the most optimistic approaches of the human mind to enhance personal development , among other things. It is within this current that the concept of psychological well-being takes shape.

Psychological well-being is a set of variables that encompass different aspects of our lives and the degree of satisfaction with them. Terms such as Self-acceptance, Positive Relationships, Autonomy, Mastery of the Environment , Purpose in Life and Personal growth are some concepts that take on great importance in personal well-being.

In this line, different studies show that people perceive themselves as reasonably happy regardless of their age and their sex or culture, valuing in a very similar way the sources of happiness. Feeling happy is more adaptive when it comes to facing and overcoming adversities that arise throughout life.

In the field of sports, research focused on finding the relationship between sports activity and psychological well-being is becoming increasingly popular. In early ages such as adolescence, where it is very important to generate healthy life habits, among which sport is one, results have been obtained that contribute to reinforce the importance of the adoption of these active lifestyles , since they are positively related to different factors that increase psychological well-being, such as the valuation of oneself, the perception of health and overall life satisfaction.

The result of this type of study leads us to affirm that psychological well-being is associated with the practice of physical activity . Among other aspects, people who regularly engage in physical exercise are perceived to be healthier, with less stress and in a better state of mind than those who do not engage in any type of physical activity.

The effect of sport on psychological well-being

The most popular variables that are closely related to sport and psychological well-being are: cognition, coping, positive affect and self-efficacy. Those who engage in sport tend to have better results in all of them.

Each of these is explained in more detail below:


The way we see and understand the world, the ideas, thoughts and beliefs we have about ourselves and everything around us is closely related to our well-being. Through sport at an early age the intellectual development of the child can be enhanced and it has even been proven that performing very short but intense physical exercises presents an improvement in their mental capacities such as attention.

2. Coping

It has been shown that those with high psychological well-being use problem and emotion-oriented coping strategies versus those with low well-being, who have a more passive and avoidance-centred way of coping. All this has to do with the role we take when facing a situation or problem.

We have two options: take responsibility for the situation and improve everything we can or run away from the problem, take responsibility for everything to others and get away with it. From both options we will obtain a very valuable learning that can improve or hinder our standard of living by giving us more or less capacity for decision making and autonomy.

3. Positive affect

The quality of our personal relationships will be a determining factor in our assessment of life satisfaction. Sport, and more specifically that which is developed in teams, promotes the construction of a wider social environment in which we share emotions, thoughts and sensations especially in stages of development, where the social circle is of vital importance.

4. Self-efficacy

It is defined as beliefs in one’s ability to organize and execute the required actions and to handle future situations. If we believe that we can reach an objective, we will find the resources to achieve it.

Sports psychology is a promising area

The new fields of psychology in which positive psychology is found, are bringing new visions and lines of research in different areas. Within sport, in the last few decades the use of concepts related to positive emotions , resilience and, in short, the positive perception of events, at first sight negative (such as an injury), from which to obtain a personal experience to learn from and which helps us to obtain the desired well-being, has intensified.

Obtaining and maintaining psychological well-being through the reinterpretation of situations, positive assessments and generation of emotions that favour it is one of the functions of sports psychology at this time.

If you are looking to optimize your levels of personal well-being through sport you can find more information on the website of UPAD Psychology and Coaching where you will find great professionals in Sports Psychology.