benefits of sports
Playing sports, either indoors or in the great outdoors, offers numerous benefits beyond the obvious physical perks.
We all know taking part in cycling, competitive running, football, basketball, swimming, baseball, and more helps develop more muscular definition, increase endurance, and lose weight. Obviously, if you're playing outside, you'll get to enjoy fresh air, soak up sunlight (to produce more vitamin D), and play on varied terrain.
Yet what else do sports do for you?
Join us as we take a look at the various benefits of getting yourself out there …
You can Improve your Social Skills
Socializing is a major aspect of most sports. At any age, from kindergarten to adulthood, taking part in sport requires you to play as part of a team or against at least one other opponent.
For example, on a basketball team, you have to figure out who will play which position, who will mark which opposing player etc. This demands you be able to decide which role suits you best, which will suit others best, and generally be willing to compromise to maintain a fluid, effective team.
Even if you’re playing one-on-one, you have to be willing to admit to mistakes, accept losing, and maintain a friendly atmosphere.
The more you spend time with people on your own team and your opponent’s side, the better your social skills will be.
This is especially helpful if you need to meet new people or want to work on your communication skills.
You can Combat Stress and Depression
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), seven in 10 adults across the USA suffer from stress or anxiety on a daily basis.
They go on to point out that exercise can help to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. How? It produces endorphins, those all-important feel-good chemicals, which helps to lift your mood.
This also helps to improve your quality of sleep, which in turn leads to feeling better overall. Their research also indicates that as little as five minutes’ worth of aerobic exercise has the power to generate anti-anxiety effects.
As anyone who experiences stress, anxiety, and/or depression on a regular basis will know, these have an incredibly powerful effect on your ability to live. Playing sports is not a cure, but it has been shown to at least help.
You can Improve your Self-Confidence
Just as playing sports has the power to improve your social skills and lift your mood, it also gives you a confidence boost.
As you develop in your chosen sport (or sports), you’ll start to learn new skills, discover abilities you never thought yourself capable of, and realize that you’re able to accomplish goals you might have thought beyond your reach. You may find yourself leading a team as you never have, or proving to be more useful than ever before.
You’re also likely to find yourself growing as a person, and having a better outlook on your own capabilities. This can carry outside of the sports hall and into your daily life, helping to improve your performance at work and your personal pursuits.
Learning a new sport can be daunting, as can getting involved in exercise following a period of inactivity. You’re likely to feel self-conscious or intimidated. However, the important thing is to remember that everyone has to start somewhere, even world-class athletes.
Just focus on what you want to achieve from taking part, and take it one session at a time.
While some of us love to get outdoors during winter, snuggling under scarves and gloves, others retreat inside instead.
There’s no denying that going for a run at dawn takes a little more willpower in winter than it does in warmer months, and hiking endless trails is certainly tougher. But there’s no reason to let winter put you off the outdoors activities you love.
In fact, it might even do you the world of good: research shows that exposure to cold weather offers various health benefits. Let’s take a closer look …
Cold Could Be Key to a Speedier Metabolism
Being outside in cold weather gives you a faster metabolism. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s complicated. You may not be able to burn off those Christmas treats by simply standing in your back yard for 10 minutes, or adopt an all-chocolate diet because you ice-skate for an hour a day.
Still, while cold weather’s not a cure for storing fat, it has been shown to increase the speed of your metabolism. The reason? It activates the body’s ‘brown’ fat, which then generates heat through burning calories.
So, you can burn more calories by spending time outdoors, but be careful not to over-expose yourself to low temperatures. A hike on a snowy trail, building a snowman, or going for a run in chilly weather can lead to positive effects.
Your Heart will Get Stronger
If you have a heart condition or any other cardiovascular issues, prolonged exposure to the cold can be a danger, due to the extra effort your heart makes in lower temperatures. The additional stress of pumping blood around the body should be avoided for certain people.
However, for those in good health, regular exercise in cold weather can make the heart even stronger. This may help it cope with tougher workouts as you increase your distance run or weight lifted.
Combat Low Moods and Stress
While plenty of us love winter, Christmas, and everything the season brings, others struggle.
This is understandable. Low temperatures, rainfall (increasing flood risks in certain areas), strong winds (potentially damaging properties), and the financial demands of Christmas can all get too much for even the jolliest person.
Getting outside for a run, a walk, a hike, a bike ride, a spot of skiing, or even just playing in the snow with your kids or pets can release much-needed endorphins. These are the body’s feel-good chemicals, and even just a little exercise will lift your mood.
Exercise is often recommended for people struggling with stress and depression, so give it a try if you’re facing difficulties.
Exercising outdoors is good for you throughout the year, but getting out in the fresh air during winter might just be better for you than you imagine. Consider taking up a new sport, get into hiking to explore your nearest beauty-sports, or just spend time playing outside with the family.
It’s very easy to stay on the couch in the colder months, watching movies and snacking, but this isn’t ideal for your health. Even the smallest, briefest activity can help your body stay in good condition during winter. Give it a go – you may just love it.