Can You Control Anger with Sports?

Anger is a negative emotion that results from a stressful situation. It's important to learn how to control anger so it doesn't start to affect your health.
Can You Control Anger with Sports?

Last update: 03 December, 2020

One of the reasons to start exercising is to learn how to control anger. Athletes, coaches, and psychologists know the positive effects sports have on mood. How can you eliminate these feelings in the face of anger?

Anger is a negative emotion characterized by feelings of resentment and irritability. Psychologists understand anger as a dynamic and multidimensional feeling. Here, they divide it into traits and states.

Trait anger would be the difference between the way people respond to stressful situations. That is, there are people who are more irritable than others. On the other hand, state anger is the specific reaction that a person has in a certain situation.

People have to find ways to channel anger so it doesn’t negatively influence other parts of their lives. Sports can be a valuable opportunity to learn how to manage this negative emotionNext, we’ll see how sports can help to control anger.

Control anger and other health parameters

During a fit of anger, the cardiovascular system ramps up, the heart beats faster and blood pressure increases. If you don’t control anger, these attacks could actually hurt your health.

This is shown by a study published in Advances in Latin American PsychologyHere, it states that there’s an emotional component that would help explain why some people are at a greater risk of developing coronary heart disease. Also, this emotional component would be the experience of feelings of anger and hostility on a frequent basis.

Physical exercise is effective both in controlling negative emotions and in maintaining cardiovascular health. Therefore, its benefits are twofold to prevent heart disease.

Control anger and clear the mind of unnecessary thoughts

In many cases, anger originates as a consequence of thoughts and not so much from a stressful situation. Thinking about what made us angry or imagining a situation of injustice can be enough to trigger an angry reaction.

Exercise is a powerful distractor that draws attention away from those thoughts. When you’re concentrating on an activity, your mind has no opportunity to turn over negative thoughts. In addition, sports help us process these thoughts and realize they aren’t that important.

Use your emotions to do positive things

One way to control anger is to take advantage of the increased energy and direct it toward more beneficial goals. In fact, studies in sports psychology say that anger can help performance.

In some sports, such as martial arts, well-channeled anger can be positive and increase performance. Here, anger isn’t rage or violence, but rather activation and determination to win. For example, in a match where both participants are technically equal, the one who has made the most effort to go after his rival wins.

Physical exercise creates social support networks

An active lifestyle has a positive impact on all areas of health: physical, psychological, and social. Physical exercise with others is a great way to combat feelings of loneliness, as well as connect people with similar hobbies and tastes.

Social support networks are groups of people that you frequently talk to and have lots in common with. They’re very important because they provide resources and skills to deal with problems. A sports team or running association are examples of support networks.

To control anger, these networks provide a safe space where you can express and resolve emotional distress. Here, people feel safe sharing feelings of anger with others, and the group helps to solve the problem.

Learn to control anger and live better

There will always be situations that make us angry, but we can’t react to all of them in an aggressive or hostile way. To control anger, you have to adopt the mindfulness mentality. Put things in perspective, and let go of what’s harmful.

In short, sports are a great treatment for emotional distress. You’ll notice the benefits quickly since they start just after you finish training. In addition, they’re long-lasting too. The only side effect is that it’s highly addictive!

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  • Oliva-Mendoza, F. J., Calleja, N., y Pozo, M. D. R. H. (2011). La ira en el desempeño deportivo del judoka. Revista Latinoamericana de Medicina Conductual/Latin American Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 1(2), 41-48.
  • Palmero, F., Díez, J. L., Diago, J. L., Moreno, J., y Guadalupe, L. A. O. (2008). Hostilidad, psicofisiología y salud cardiovascular. Artículos en PDF disponibles desde 1994 hasta 2013. A partir de 2014 visítenos en www. elsevier. es/sumapsicol, 14(1), 23-50.