How to Score Health Benefits by Playing Sports
American football coach Vince Lombardi questioned, “If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?” That’s a very good point, but there is something more important that you can score by playing a sport, and that is a wide range of health benefits.
Benefits of Playing Sports for Everyone
From little leaguers to professional athletes, everyone can enjoy both physical and emotional health benefits associated with playing sports. With news articles about the growing epidemics of issues such as obesity and bullying, playing sports is a great way to tackle nearly any challenge.
Self Confidence – Playing sports not only helps those with low self esteem build up their self confidence, but it also helps people with too much confidence learn how to keep their ego in check. Team sports are a wonderful way to combat a “the only right way is my way” mentality.
Mentorships – Playing sports offers a dual benefit in regards to mentorships. It allows dedicated coaches the chance to provide positive experiences for players on the team, and it allows players to work together mentoring one another when the opportunity arises. You don’t have to be a child to receive a life lesson from a dedicated coach or mentor.
Family Time – Families are so busy that finding the time to spend together is a real challenge. However sports together offers a way for families to spend time together. Instead of sitting on the couch watching the game, set aside some time each week to join a community league, play miniature golf, or shoot hoops at the park.
Staying Fit – When families play sports together, whether in a league or just for recreation, they typically stay in better shape. Playing sports inspires eating a well balanced diet and drinking water or other healthy drinks to stay hydrated. This combined with the physical activity contributes to staying fit.
Healthy Choices – People who play sports tend to make healthier choices than those who limit activity to watching sports from the comfort of the living room sofa. Additionally, people who play sports are less likely to indulge in drugs and alcohol, and for good reason. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, alcohol affects motor performance, grip strength, and contributes to dehydration (www.acsm.org/).
Better Performance – Students who play sports average higher grades than those who do not. And adults who play sports typically earn bigger salaries and hold higher positions in the workplace. This is all due to the fact that playing a sport teaches skills such as diligence, teamwork, patience, and strategic thinking.
And those are just some of the general benefits of playing sports. Depending on the sport you play, your age, personality type, and lifestyle, there could be other benefits not listed here. No matter what challenges life presents to you, there is a sport out there waiting for you to become a participant!
Playing Sports and Special Needs
People with special needs have greater challenges than worrying about being picked last by the team captain. Depending on their disability or condition, they may have trouble playing during an entire game. Sporting events such as Special Olympics go a long way towards making these children feel included while offering some of the benefits associated with playing a sport.
Special Olympics is not the only organization that looks out for these special athletes. The group Special Needs Sports Corporation in Rochester, NY encourages players to participate in sports such as golf, bowling, field hockey, basketball, and soccer. Other community sports leagues lean towards children and young adults with specific challenges, such as autism.
Choosing the Best Sports for Health
Any physical activity is good, but some sports are healthier than others. When looking for sports to join to get the most health benefits, those who are already in fair physical health should consider running, jogging, and cycling. However basketball, swimming, and certain forms of karate offer equal benefits without seeming like exercise at all. They’re just fun, which means you are more likely to keep up with them.
When it comes to choosing a sport, make sure it fits not only your exercise and health needs, but also your lifestyle. If your job interferes with your ability to join a community league, for example, talk to your boss about starting up a company softball team or invite him out to the local club for a round of 18 holes of golf.