Health Risks and Benefits of Watching the World Cup
Football fans have been waiting for years to feel this kind of excitement again – it is finally the World Cup season! Fans all around the world are gearing up for it by carefully planning their schedules to catch late night matches with their family, friends, and favourite game-night snacks. Being a football fan during World Cup season is a thrilling experience and can act as a mood-booster, but it is also an experience that may take a toll on your health.
What are the health risks of watching the World Cup, and are there benefits? Here are some ways that watching the World Cup can give your health an extra boost or leave a negative health impact.
Watching Sports Keeps Your Brain Stimulated
Even though you will not get a workout by watching your favourite team play, your brain might. According to a 2008 study by the University of Chicago, the region of the brain that is associated with planning and controlling actions is stimulated when fans listen to conversations about their sport.
When watching the match, have you ever felt that your heart was racing as if it was you running down that pitch? This is due to excitement from sympathetic response, which allows us to relate with another person’s actions. Hence, watching someone play football will lead to you getting excited, causing an increase in your own heart and respiration rate.
You Get a Boost in Mood If Your Team Wins
Remember sharing the feeling of joy with your loved ones over their accomplishments? Sports fans also experience their team’s victory vicariously, along with the mood boost that comes with it.
This phenomenon is called basking in reflected glory, where people are likely to experience and show off the successes of others that they are connected to. Sports fans, especially the avid ones, identify closely with their team, and are likely to bask in their team’s victory and experience an increase in mood.
You Enjoy the Social Support Network of Your Fandom
There is a reason why sports fans congregate to watch their team play. Being a sports fan gives you a sense of belonging, a connection to others around you. In turn, this boosts your social and psychological health.
From having a shared interest to speaking the same language, having a sense of affiliation can ward off feelings of loneliness and build a sense of community. You feel great when your team wins, and a shared sense of loss when they lose.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Staying up late for that 3am match? Fans may forgo sleep to watch their team play if the match takes place during the wee hours. Pulling all-nighters, especially consecutively, has numerous negative impacts on your health.
Sleep deprivation can cause a decline in cognitive function, which affects your memory and your ability to make decisions, while increasing the risk of feeling anxiety, irritability, and depression. Meanwhile, your physical health will also be affected because lack of sleep can increase the risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Lack of sleep also tends to be associated with weight gain, and those who are concerned about their complexion may find a flare of wrinkles, eyebags, or “red eyes”. Additionally, reports have indicated that chronic sleep deprivation may increase the risk of some cancers, such as colorectal, prostate, and breast (inconclusive). Reports have also indicated higher rates of motor vehicle accidents involving individuals that are sleep deprived.
Sleep-deprivation can also weaken your immune system because your body produces infection-fighting proteins and antibodies when you are asleep. Pulling many all-nighters during the World Cup season means decreased production of these important antibodies, which leads to an increased risk of falling sick.
So, how can you avoid the numerous risks that come with sleep deprivation during this sports season?
Remember to eat more foods containing protein, zinc, iron, and vitamins B, C, and D, as they form the foundation of your body’s immune system.
Supplementing your diet with a multivitamin is also helpful if you suspect you are not getting the necessary nutrients from your diet.
Most importantly, get back into your regular sleeping patterns as soon as possible to recover from the effects of sleep deprivation.
Putting On Extra Pounds
Popular game-night snacks (such as pizza, soft drinks, and potato chips) are high in salt, fat, and calories. While snacking during a single game may not have noticeable effects on your body, doing so over the entire World Cup season can make a difference to your waistline. You may also be too engrossed in the game to keep track of what and how much you are eating and drinking.
Instead of the usual game-day snacks. Here are some healthier alternatives to consider.
|Potato chips||Homemade popcorn|
|Soft drinks||Fruit-infused water / smoothies|
Apart from these alternatives, an easy way to pick healthier snacks is to look for the Healthier Choice Symbol on the packaging.
Putting Your Heart Health at Risk
It is common for your excitement to reach a fever pitch when watching your team in action. But sometimes, getting overly emotionally invested can affect your heart. Psychological triggers such as anger, stress, excitement, or anxiety, can strain your heart and put you at risk of heart-related conditions.
For some superfans, the excitement and stress of watching your teams during matches, especially during scoring moments, can significantly increase your heart rate. This can be dangerous particularly for older fans with heart disease.
Eating unhealthy game-day snacks is not going to help your heart either. Fatty foods increase your bad cholesterol and can clog up your heart arteries.
Listen to Your Body
The World Cup season is a great opportunity to bond with friends and loved ones. All in all, we encourage everyone to enjoy the moment, but at the same time, listen to their body.