NOTE: This post will mostly be my (negative) opinion about sports/P.E./etc… All of what I’m going to be saying is my personal experiences, not backed up by any data or science.
Now days, P.E. teachers, scientists, nurses, college counselors, and parents talk about the benefits of doing sports, P.E, and active lifestyle. I agree with them, to a certain extent. Sports and active lifestyle does help you to be healthy and look fit. When I used to do sports, I got sick less often. However, with this said, here is where I disagree with them.
Loads of teachers, scientists, etc… are claiming that P.E./sports/active lifestyle helps improve academic performance, decrease stress, help you lose weight, increase your chances of being successful in your life, and help you to concentrate. Speaking from personal experience (and personal experience only), I hadn’t experienced a single one of those benefits.
When I was doing sports in High School (because I had to), I had a 3.8 GPA. Now, I’m in College and don’t do sports anymore. Guess what GPA I have now? You guessed it. A 3.8 GPA. It didn’t increase. It didn’t decrease. Now, it’s also more difficult to get a 3.8 GPA because I had a “curve” in High School due to I.B. and, in order to get a 4.0 GPA, having all 6’s (Which is like an A-) was fine. Now, I had 2 A-, and it dropped down to 3.8. So, arguably, I’m doing even better academically then I did in school.
From my experience, a lot of things influence GPA such as work ethic, natural intelligence, your ability to force yourself to sit down and study, your ability to concentrate and remain calm and control yourself during an exam, having a good memory and problem solving ability, your relationship with your professor, sometimes even luck. However, what has absolutely no influence on your GPA is wether you have an active lifestyle or not.
Yes. For some people, it might help them to concentrate, keep calm, etc… but I’m not one of those people. I never had an issue with forcing myself to study, my memory was always good enough to pull off studying one night before the test and then acing it, and I always had enough emotional intelligence to keep calm during the test starting High School. The only class for which active lifestyle matters is P.E. (My personal opinion about this is that P.E. should be mandatory in middle school and then an elective in High School and College. By that age, kids normally know what’s good and what’s bad for them and shouldn’t be forced into doing what makes them unhappy.) For all of the other subjects, you are better off talking to your professor, practicing skills that are actually related to the subject, not procrastinating on essays, and actually doing the work that needs to be done instead of getting yourself another sport in the hopes that it will somehow magically help your intelligence. I have met plenty of people who don’t do anything physically active and who have a 4.0 GPA and some who have 2.0 GPA. I also met student athletes who have a 2.9 GPA and some who have a 4.0. What I’m trying to say here is that regardless of wether or not you have an active lifestyle, you can have a good GPA and how much sports you do will not determine or improve how smart you are. It can help some people but it doesn’t help everyone and if you are an exception to the rule (I saw so many exceptions to the rule that I don’t even want to call it a rule despite the fact that science says so) don’t do sports in the hopes that it will help improve your academics and do something tangible and actually useful with your time instead.
NOTE: I get it. GPA is not the only factor that measures/reflects intelligence/academic ability but it is a measurable one and something that potentially changes through out one’s life, which is why I was using it as an example.
When it comes to stress relief, I know a lot of people for whom sports provides that. If you are one of those people, then that’s great. By all means, do sports. However, if you are like me, sports felt like a chore and created more stress. Part of it is that I’m really bad at sports. The other part is that I simply don’t enjoy it and doing something that I don’t enjoy doing for the sake of doing it doesn’t make me feel happier. Despite what science says about your body releasing endorphins, if you don’t feel happy doing something, doing it will not make you feel happier and it will not make you less stressed out. In fact, most likely, when you are unhappy, you become more stressed out. When I did sports, I would usually think about all of the academic work that I needed to do or things that I found interesting that I could have been doing instead or how bad I was at it, all of which made things even worse stress wise. What I usually do for stress relief is that I draw, write, or socialize with people. Those three activities usually help me feel less stressed out because I enjoy them and find them fun. If you are like me, there are loads of other healthy ways to get rid of stress that have nothing to do with sports that you can try out and figure out what works for you. However, what will most likely not work for you is continuing doing sports because somebody else says that it will “make you feel better”. If you tried doing something and it makes you feel worse instead of better, chances are, you will get the same result the next time you do it. To quote Einstein or whoever said this quote (there is some debate about who actually said it and I don’t want to get into an argument about it right now.)
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”
So stop the madness and insanity and try something different instead until you find what works for you. You know yourself better then some random scientist in a lab coat who never even met you and who looks at averages rather then at your unique case, your unique needs, and your idiosyncrasies.
When it comes to success, many people achieve success differently. Doing sports might help you become successful. In fact, if you want to be a professional athlete, sports will be the determining factor that will make you successful. However, you can also be successful without it. Just like with academics and GPA, there are so many exceptions to the rule that I have seen that I can’t even call it a rule.
When it comes to weight loss, I lost more weight when I stopped exercising then when I exercised. The reason for it is that I started to watch what I eat more carefully, I’m now going to college with a more demanding schedule and so I don’t have as much time to eat, and I get sick a bit more often, which causes for me to lose weight more often. Yes. Getting sick more often is bad and I’m not encouraging it. But if I said that it didn’t help me lose weight, I would be lying and I want to be brutally honest in this Blog and admit that it helped me when it comes to weight loss. So, yeah, it’s even possible to lose weight without exercise or gain weight while doing sports (yes. This happened to me once).
So, to conclude this blog post, I think that sports/active lifestyle/P.E. have some benefits but it’s way too overhyped. Just because it makes someone else happy or the majority of people happy, does not mean that it will make you happy. At the end of the day, you should do what will help you achieve your goals and this might be different for you then for other people around you. This advice applies to sports as well as to life in general. Over all, personally, I don’t do sports anymore because the benefits of getting sick less and being more healthy do not outweigh the downsides of being more stressed out and not spending this time doing things that I find interesting. The opportunity cost and the cost just don’t outweigh the benefits.
Do what makes you happy,