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If you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle, you know that there are a number of factors to bear in mind. A healthy lifestyle is about more than simply losing weight, building strength, or increasing your stamina, even though each one of those plays an important role.

A truly healthy and balanced lifestyle includes methods that help you release stress and tension; gives equal weight to mental and emotional health as well as physical health; and keeps you feeling energetic and capable.

There are many different building blocks that people can use to construct a healthy lifestyle, including popular options like yoga and running, and more unusual ideas like laughter workshops and pet therapy. But one of the more effective yet still little-known activities is squash. Squash is an unusual activity that truly improves every aspect of your wellbeing. Here are just a few of the ways that squash can help increase your wellness.

Reduce stress and tension

Life is hectic and stressful for everyone, and that was before the novel coronavirus came along. Stress can cause physical damage to your body, from severe headaches to increased risk of heart attacks to a lower immune system that leaves you vulnerable to viruses and germs. That’s not to mention the impact of stress on your mental health.

We all need a safe way to release that tension and rediscover inner tranquility. Whacking a ball around a court is an excellent way to get rid of stress, plus all exercise increases endorphin hormones which help reduce stress levels. On top of that, squash demands that you concentrate on the game at hand, giving your brain a rest from endlessly replaying the stressful events of the day.

Increase your energy levels

Although you’ll feel pleasantly tired after a hard game of squash, those feelings of fatigue should be only temporary. In the long term, playing squash increases your stamina and gradually raises your energy levels.

You might find it hard to believe right now, but the more you play, the more you’ll be able to play. Exercising is a virtuous cycle that fills you with the energy and desire to exercise more, while building your strength so that you can keep going for longer.

Lower your risk of depression

Squash and other forms of cardio exercise have been scientifically proven to naturally enhance your mood and lessen your risk of developing depressive or anxiety disorders. When you play squash, your brain releases endorphins, which are hormones that raise your spirits and make you feel happy.

As you improve your game and win more often, you’ll also enjoy that dopamine hit of achievement and victory, which is another hormone that triggers a sense of joy. Dopamine is an addictive hormone, which is part of what makes you want to come back for more exercise even when you’re tired from the effort.

But even if you lose more often than not, you’ll find that the impact of exercise on your mood is enough to make you feel good regardless of the score.

Get a better night’s sleep

Between our busy lives and rising stress levels, insomnia is commonplace. The National Institutes for Health estimate that around a third of Americans suffer from disrupted sleep, and a poll found that close to half have at least one of the symptoms of insomnia a few times a week or more.

Lack of sleep is another indicator of poor health that raises your risk of developing diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, and impacts on weight gain.

Squash helps you sleep better. When your body is tired out, you’ll find it easier to drop off. Plus unlike other sports, squash demands that you exercise your brain as well as your body, leaving your mind too tired to keep you awake at night overthinking.

Enjoy social interaction

Loneliness is bad for both your mental and physical health. Recent research has found that social isolation and a lack of friendly interaction raises the risks of everything from obesity to Alzheimer’s.

Unfortunately, in our fragmented society, more people live alone than ever before, and the rise of working from home removes even workplace conversations. Communities are falling apart and many people say that their main social interaction is with the checkout clerk in the grocery store. Squash can help correct that, though.

Squash is a two-player sport, unlike popular exercise regimes like running, weight lifting, or home workouts. When you play squash, you’re constantly interacting with your opponent, moving around them, considering their decisions, and sometimes bumping into them. A regular squash partner can turn into a close friend, while playing as part of a squash club gives you the opportunity to meet new people with a shared interest, giving you a natural pool of potential social contacts.

Squash can be your new keystone habit

Whether you’ve never played before or it’s been years since you last held a racket in your hands, there are so many good reasons to take up squash to complete a healthy lifestyle. Making time for a regular squash game could be your keystone habit that leads to a fitter, healthier, happier you.

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Why squash should be part of your healthy lifestyle