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Super Bowl Monday review of the health effects of watching the 2014 Super Bowl

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Take a moment this "Super Bowl Monday" to assess how watching the "NFL Super Bowl Sunday 2014" left you feeling...and read on to discover the reasons why. Research shows if you were one of the reported 111.5 million viewers drawn in by the Super Bowl’s powers over America’s “collective consciousness,” you may have experienced some or all of the psychological and physiological effects watching this year's Super Bowl's could have on you.

Sure the Super Bowl commercials were designed to make us laugh, or in the case of the Budweiser "Puppy Love" commercial above...cry, yet it's typically the overall action and excitement of the Super Bowl game itself that has the ability to impact our health and well-being.

For instance, do you feel more connected to the community and elated, or sad and exhausted? Are you feeling fat and bloated from drinking or eating too much, or light and peppy because you made healthy Super Bowl party food choices? Did all that raw testosterone on the field inspired you to be more active on Super Bowl Monday, or did you find yourself calling in sick with a serious need for some healthy nutrition and a miracle hangover cure?

Now before we get into the general specifics of how and why watching the NFL Super Bowl has an effect on your health, it interesting to consider that if watching the 2014 Super Bowl left you feeling less than stoked no matter which team you we’re rooting for, there may be a psychological reason.

According to an Ohio State University Study, “Fans tend to derive more pleasure from a close loss than a blowout win. The less certainty, the greater the suspense, and the greater the enjoyment."

Clearly the NFL Super Bowl 2014 did not have an enormous amount of suspense, with the Seattle Seahawks "dominating Denver on the field from the start."

That said, the characteristics, habits and overall health of sports fan has been a focus of researchers for some time, and it’s interesting to point out – while there are negatives, it’s not all bad. In fact, watching the Super Bowl and other professional sports can enhance a person’s health and well-being in the following ways:

  • Scientists have found that being a sports fan can be good for your emotional, psychological and social health.
  • Fans who identify with a local team have higher self-esteem, are more socially connected, and are less lonely.
  • Maintaining a strong social network, especially one with healthy pals, improves your chance of living longer by 50%. It doubles your odds of surviving cancer and wards off colds.
  • Research shows that a man’s testosterone levels increase when they watch their team win – and higher testosterone levels have been linked to improved sexual function and increased energy.
  • Sports “fandom” unites people at a sociological level. Humans have a strong need to belong, and a need to identify with something greater than ourselves. Being involved and actively following sports and sports teams is one way some people identify with something greater than them.

Changes in brain chemistry is also something that can happen when watching the NFL Super Bowl from the stadium or at home – particularly the limbic system of your brain which is the part of the brain associated with fear, the production of “fight or flight” chemicals, and competitiveness.

Activated by the competitive, aggressive, action-packed nature of the game, this change in brain chemistry in the cerebral cortex - the evolutionarily advanced part of our brains that manages decision-making is somewhat reduced. This is why during all the excitement, tension, and emotional ups and downs of the NFL Super Bowl or sporting event, people let go…running the gamut of cheering, crying, cursing - and shouting at the TV (As if that will help anything).

How much you ate as well as the types of foods you consumed may have had something to do in part with whether your team was winning or losing. Considering research showing that when something good happens to your life, you're more “future-oriented," when you feel good about yourself it is a natural desire to want to keep feeling good about yourself.

For many people this translates into an increased motivation to follow their healthy diet and exercise goals. Feeling bad, as would naturally be the case if your favorite NFL team was losing - or lost the game elevates short-term goals like seeking comfort food to drown out your sorrows.

It’s also important to note, that as reviewed, while there are some real, positive benefits of watching the Super Bowl and being a professional sports fan, the negative effects of the same can include overeating, over-consumption of alcohol, and in some isolated incidents - heart attacks.

In conclusion, taking an assessment of how you feel on Super Bowl Monday may provide you with better insight into how watching the Super Bowl 2014 affected your particular health and well-being. It is also important to acknowledge that while being an active professional sports fan can offer some real health benefits, we just need to keep in my that when the going get’s tough – in the end…it’s really all just a game.

Until next time...keep the party going ~ Aprilanne

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