‘Physical activity’, to many, is limited to morning walks or hitting the gym to be the proud owner of an enviable body. While there’s no arguing that working out is a must if you want to look and feel good about yourself, the fact is that there’s a dearth of adults who indulge in sports activities. So many people who were naturally athletic in their school and college years become too preoccupied with work and other commitments to continue pursuing their favourite sport as a hobby, if not a career.
Playing a sport is a fun way to achieve both physical and mental agility. Exercising in a gym can get monotonous even if you change routines consistently. Busting a sweat by playing a game instead has a plethora of advantages. Here’s why you should consider taking up a sport:
1. Positive self-image: Playing a sport keeps you in great physical shape and in turn helps you develop a more positive image of yourself. Even relatively simpler activities like running and skipping rope drive you to put your energy to good use. With better endurance and stamina, your overall fitness levels shoot up, and so do your levels of endorphins, the brain’s feel-good chemical that curbs depression and anxiety.
The psychological and emotional benefits of playing a sport are plenty: it makes you feel more confident when you accomplish exercise challenges and goals. If you are prone to occasional or frequent bouts of depression, sport can serve as a healthy distraction which breaks the cycle of negative thinking. Playing a sport also gives you the chance to meet other enthusiasts and enjoy more social interactions.
2. Mental dexterity: Endurance and better social skills aren’t the only benefits of sports. Research has shown that games like chess, archery, soccer, tennis, etc. improve hand-eye coordination and concentration. You are therefore more likely to exercise long-term focus when applying yourself to other tasks.
3. Team work and good leadership: Since most sports require you to form teams and collaborate with other players, they encourage you to be more flexible and think with a cool head. Playing any competitive game means you have to strategize to score points or win. Adopting the right tactic for an occasion on a regular basis involves out of the box thinking. Communication skills, a better understanding of different personality types, and the art of planning and delegation can be honed as a result. This can take you a long way professionally too.
True sportsmanship calls for the need to be positive in the face of failure while also remaining competitive- both of which are hallmarks of able leaders. In fact, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that sports help build character.
4. Social integration: To build on the point of team work, playing a sport at a district, state, or national level increases the sense of belonging to a community. It cultivates a sense of patriotism or the feeling of oneness among both players and spectators.
5. Learning a skill: You don’t have to be an avid sports buff or player to reap the rewards of regular physical activity. Being passionate about any game and striving to get better at it can improve the quality of your life. Excellence in any field is admirable, and sports are no exception. You can play any game you like and pursue it as a hobby or extracurricular activity to de-stress after a hard day’s work and add another skill to your kitty.
6. Using time constructively: To most people, winding down after a less than perfect day equates to sitting in front of the T.V. or relaxing in other ways. This isn’t a bad thing- after all we aren’t robots, and a little ‘me time’ is fundamental to our well-being. However, utilizing your energy by playing a sport, even for a little while, helps you use your time productively since you have so much to gain from it. It’s nice to sit down with a drink after a dull day, but not so if this becomes a regular habit. Being sporty, on the other hand, is never a bad thing.
7. Overall fitness: This is the most obvious and perhaps the most lauded benefit of sports. It’s no secret that playing a sport is one of the best ways to stay agile and athletic for years to come. Apart from burning excess calories and maintaining your weight, you also enjoy the benefits of:
– Lower blood pressure
– Better lung capacity and stamina
– Steady cholesterol and blood sugar levels
– Reduced risks of lifestyle diseases such as heart problems, diabetes, and stress-related disorders
– Well-toned muscles and healthy bones
– Better strength
– Better immunity
– Greater capacity for tolerating pain in the event of minor injuries
– Improved appetite and quality of sleep
Studies have gone as far as to show that team sports can even help women regulate their menstrual cycles and ward off gynaecological problems.
Being a regular at the gym can increase fitness levels and boost overall health as well, but what makes sports stand out is the fact that they seem like less of a chore. A workout in the great outdoors makes the process fun and enjoyable- so much so that you may even lose track of time. Participating in a sport can be a great supplement to your regular workouts and motivate you to go out there and do what you have to in order to stay fit. This is a far cry from the humdrum routines many people subject themselves to when they enrol in a fitness centre.
If there’s a sporting team or club nearby, grab the bull by the horns and sign up for a membership. If yours is a hectic daily routine and you have no time to indulge in competitive sport, loosen up when you can by partaking in a lunchtime or weekend match with colleagues and friends. Do what you enjoy and treat your mind and body as they should be treated – like a temple.