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World Athletics Day

World Athletics Day is celebrated on the 7th of May to create awareness regarding the physiological and psychological significance of sports and how sports help in overall well-being. It was established by the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), now known as World Athletics, in 1996 to raise awareness of the advantages of being active by incorporating sports or any other physical activity in one’s life.

The main goal of World Athletics Day is to instil athleticism in the youth at large while also highlighting the major achievements of athletes over the years in sports. This day was initially introduced as a social responsibility project called ‘Athletics for a Better World’ to encourage people of all ages, genders, backgrounds and abilities to adopt some form of physical activity.

It is also proven that individuals who exercise regularly have significantly better mental and emotional health and also show much lower incidents of mental illness. When one engages in sports or exercise their body releases hormones called endorphins. The endorphins bind with the receptors in one’s brain and reduce the perception of pain. They also trigger a feeling of positivity in the body. For instance, the “euphoric” feeling that is experienced post a run or workout. This feeling is termed ‘runner’s high’ and can be accompanied by a positive outlook for the day.

Significance of Regular Exercise on Athletics Day

Exercise improves our mood, concentration and alertness. Key benefits of regular exercise:

  • Lowers stress: Regular exercise lowers the levels of stress hormones in the body called adrenaline and cortisol. It fosters the production of endorphins, a body chemical that is an instant mood elevator. Endorphins create a feeling of relaxation and optimism after an intense workout.
  • Wards off anxiety and depression: Exercise or sports is also an impactful treatment for mild to moderate depression. Outdoor exercise in nature and sunlight can help increase levels of Vitamin D and also elevate your mood.
  • Boosts self-esteem: As one feels fitter and their stamina increases, their self-image is bound to improve. One feels more confident and in control of their thoughts and actions, resulting in better productivity and efficiency.
  • Improves sleep: Researchers observe that moderate aerobic exercise elevates the number of slow-wave sleep one gets. Slow-wave sleep means deep sleep, where both the brain and the body can relax and rejuvenate. Exercise helps stabilise one’s mood and also decompresses the mind, which is “a cognitive process that is important for naturally transitioning to sleep,” according to, Johns Hopkins Center’s Medical Director for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital.


A host of sports events are arranged on World Athletics Day which include, but are not limited to, running, walking, trekking, track and field, race walking, etc. Several inter-school competitions are organised at the state and country levels. The champions of these events then get a chance to participate in larger events like the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games. World Athletics Day is a wonderful opportunity for people to live their passion and take it a step further.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) spearheads the organisation and management of athletics in India. The Athletics Federation of India is affiliated with the Indian Olympic Association and IAAF. It organises multiple national and international sports events and fosters sports in India.

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WHO recommends a minimum of 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise every week for all adults. As we celebrate World Athletics Day, we encourage everyone to have one active sport in their daily lifestyle to stay fit and healthy.