While the physical risks from the coronavirus are set to be reduced with vaccines, mental health is one of the biggest issues we'll face in 2021 as a fallout from the global pandemic. Whether it’s grief, isolation, loss of income, fear, anxiety, insomnia or addiction, there are some serious mental health repercussions, which have driven ASICS to undertake a landmark research project into the positive impact of sport on mental wellbeing.
“It is impossible to overstate just how significant the impact sport and exercise have on our mind. It’s absolutely vital that people regularly move their body to experience those all-important cognitive and emotional benefits for themselves. Never has there been a more important time to become active and experience the mental health benefits sport and movement bring,” Dr Brendon Stubbs, a leading exercise and mental health researcher based at London’s King’s College, said.
Since ASICS Founder Kihachiro Onitsuka saw that sport had the ability to bring hope and lift spirits in post-war Japan, the company has always been led by the belief sport has a positive impact on the mind.The study by the caregiver brand sees it returning to its roots and putting “Sound Mind, Sound Body™” at the core of its business. It will use cutting-edge biometric technology to capture the true impact of sport on the minds of thousands of participants all over the globe. And ahead of the research project’s full roll-out, ASICS has conducted an initial feasibility study starring a group of elite athletes, including British Olympic runner and European Triathlon Champion Beth Potter, and everyday athletes as a basis for comparison.
The investigation, supervised by Stubbs, measured a series of brain pathways known to influence the emotional and cognitive elements of mental wellbeing. The results showed with a short amount of physical activity, the run-of-the-mill athletes experienced an overall emotional uplift. This included an improvement in their ability to cope with stress, which went up to 29 percent, and a boost in their relaxation levels that reached 18 percent. The athletes also described a noteworthy drop in negative emotions like frustration (up to 135 percent) and were up to 28 percent less likely to make hasty decisions and react negatively to challenges or disruption.
When looking at the brain pathways associated with cognitive performance, the everyday athletes again showed a significant uplift after a brief amount of sport. This included a brain processing speed that went up to 26 percent, memory enhancement reaching up to 21 percent and as much as a 58 percent reduction in their levels of cognitive stress, which presents symptoms like forgetfulness and disorganisation.
Interestingly, the emotional and cognitive uplifts were greater among the average athletes than among the elite ones.
Following this initial feasibility study, ASICS is continuing to conduct the experiment with both kinds of athletes, and the findings of this research project will be used to develop future innovations that unlock the mental benefits of sport and exercise for athletes of all levels.
“We know COVID-19 has put even more pressure on the wellbeing of millions of people. We also know and believe that sport and movement can lift spirits and help people feel better,” Gary Raucher, EVP Categories at ASICS EMEA, said. “For us, 2021 is about unlocking the unique power of sport to uplift our minds. That starts with encouraging people everywhere to move with us at sunrise and will continue throughout the year as we demonstrate our commitments to our founding philosophy of a sound mind, sound body.”
Move At Sunrise Campaign
The decision makers at ASICS, an acronym of the Latin phrase Anima Sana In Corpore Sano or a Sound Mind in a Sound Body, have come together with athletes like Henri Shoeman, Noëlle Roorda and Kiryu Yoshihide to get everyone to join their mission to uplift the world. Using sunrise as a symbol of hope, they are encouraging people everywhere to kick-start 2021 by being on the go at sunrise to spread positivity, as well as raise awareness and funds. Hundreds of ASICS athletes, ambassadors and employees have started the initiative, and for every #SunriseMind selfie they share, the company will make a donation to mental health charity Mind. This will go towards funding research into mental health in sport and fund support services for people experiencing mental health problems.
To get involved:
- Get up, get out and move at sunrise by going for a run, walk, or taking part in any sport or activity
- Take your sunrise selfie and upload to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with #SunriseMind
- For every #SunriseMind image shared, ASICS will make a donation