10 Advantages of Playing Sports
Having been involved in numerous sports over the years, and currently a keen player in a tennis team, I thought it would be good to look at some of the many benefits of sports. As well as the many well established health advantages, there are also some social and psychological bonuses from participation too. There has been a substantial amount of research done on the health benefits of exercise and sport and I've listed links to a few of them at the bottom of the page.
I am not a medic or come from a medical background. Keep in mind that this article is written from the perspective of a keen player. I would strongly recommend that if you are considering starting taking up a sport, you should speak to your doctor first, especially if you haven't been physically active recently. Generally speaking, in order to avoid injury or harm, you should be cautious regarding physical exertion, start gently, and gradually increase the intensity as you become fitter.
10 Benefits of Playing Sports
- Healthier Heart
- Reduced Stress and Anxiety
- Diverse Social Connections
- Reduced Risk of Diabetes
- Reduced Body Fat
- Sleep Better
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Improved Appearance
- Improved Mood
1. Healthier Heart
Unfortunately, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the USA, but the good news is that numerous studies have shown that the regular exercise from participation in sports can dramatically increase heart health and reduce the chances of dying from cardiovascular disease. A study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, for example, showed that people who swam, or participated in racket sports (such as tennis, badminton, squash), or did aerobics (including dancing) experienced dramatic reductions in mortality rates for cardiovascular death. The reduction rates were 41% for swimming, 56% for racket sports, and 36% for aerobics.
2. Reduced Stress and Anxiety
Over two thirds of Americans say that they experience stress or anxiety on a daily basis, but did you know that studies have shown that the physical activity involved with sports participation can reduce these problems? According to Harvard Medical School, exercise combats stress through both neurochemical and behavioral means. Aerobic exercise reduces stress-inducing hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, while at the same stimulating endorphins, which provide mood elevation and a general sense of well being. Behavioral benefits include better self-image as you lose weight and gain muscle tone, as well as increased confidence, vigor, and energy.
3. Diverse Social Connections
Sports clubs and teams contain people from different backgrounds, professions, and ages, but everyone is united by their enthusiasm for the game. It's a great way to meet new people and socialize. Also, if you ever need to find a lawyer, builder, or access local knowledge and get recommendations, asking at your local sports club is often a great place to start. I can't tell you the number of times that I've been helped out directly by other team members, or through their advice on issues within and outside the sport. Whenever I go to a new location, the first thing I do is join a sports club and make new friends and contacts.
4. Reduced Risk of Diabetes
The American Diabetes Association recommends a combination of aerobic activity and strength building to lower the risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes (as well as managing diabetes generally). Examples of sporting pursuits that can reduce risk include: cycling, swimming, tennis, running, rowing, and skiing.
5. Reduced Body Fat
Participation in sporting activities has been established as a great way to lose weight. According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, exercise that involves short bursts of intense effort is the most effective, but a lower intensity workout can still work for those who can't go too hard for whatever reason. According to British fitness writer and sports therapist, Katie Hiscock in her BBC article on fat burning, it's important to remember that: "Losing weight is a simple maths equation - you need to burn more calories than you consume each day." Sports can help you to burn off calories in a fun way.
Playing as part of a team is a great way to bond with others. It can create a profound sense of satisfaction when communication, cooperation, and previous practicing all comes together positively. Teamwork can be a wonderful learning experience for children, and can improve the morale and efficiency of an adult work group. Teams can bring a deep sense of belonging, and you never stop learning when you are part of them, in my experience.
7. Sleep Better
Although there have been only a limited amount of studies that have looked at the relationship between exercise and sleep, there does seem to be a positive connection. According to the National Sleep Foundation, regular exercise can help people with problems sleeping to get more slumber, although the precise mechanism for how this happens is still not known for certain.
8. Lower Blood Pressure
According to the Mayo Clinic, regular aerobic activities can be used to control or lower your blood pressure. Aerobic exercises are basically anything that uses a variety of different muscles in repeated and rhythmic movements. Aerobic sporting activities can include things like playing tennis, badminton, running, bicycling, and swimming. In its Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, the US Department of Health and Human Services advises that adults aim to do a minimum of 50 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. On a personal level, I measure my own blood pressure regularly and in my experience, there is nothing quite like sport for lowering it.
9. Improved Appearance
As well as weight loss, physical activity can help your appearance through improved muscle tone. The more that you use your muscles, the better your physical endurance and overall strength. Being physically active also enables more blood flow and oxygen, which gives you a warm glow and an enhanced complexion.
10. Improved Mood
According to scientists, sporting activities can trigger brain chemicals that lift your mood and makes you feel happier. A study published in The Lancet by scientists at Yale and Oxford suggested that exercise was a more important factor for participants in determining their levels of well being, than their economic situation . It showed that while people who exercise regularly tend to feel bad for 35 days a year, nonactive participants felt bad for 18 days more, a substantial difference.
5 Advantages of Playing Multiple Sports
There are some benefits associated specifically with playing multiple sports, I've listed 5 of them below.
- Discovering what suits you. Involving yourself with lots of different sporting activities enables you to find out what you enjoy and what you are good at. This can be particularly useful for less experienced sports players.
- Less repetitive strain injuries. Playing a single sport means that you are doing the same physical movements over and over again, putting strain on particular muscles and joints. Playing multiple sports means that the stress on your body is spread around more.
- Multiple options. Playing a single sport can lead to an all or nothing mentality. If you get bored or injured or your circumstances change, you can end up losing all the sport from your life. Playing multiple sports means that you always have other choices.
- Some sports are seasonal. Outdoor sports often rely on good weather, so in many climes they are played only in the warmer months. When the weather turns colder, it's good to switch to an indoor game. For instance, when I lived in England I played tennis in the summer and badminton in the winter, enabling me to play sports all year.
- Wider social life. Particular sports often tend to attract particular sorts of people. For instance, the players you meet at your local golf club can be a quite different crowd from those you meet at the table tennis club. Multiple sports often means meeting a broader mix of people.
- Which sports are best for your heart? | The Washington Post
- Physical Activity Reduces Stress | ADAA
- Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight | The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Exercise makes you happier than money, according to Yale and Oxford research | Business Insider
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Paul Goodman