Fitness, Friends, and More: The Benefits of Playing Team Sports at All Ages
As of 2019, research showed that around 60% of US children aged 6 to 12 participated in a team sport at least once per year. Many of those young people play far more often than that, participating in school sports teams or extracurricular clubs on a regular basis.
However, there is a sharp decline in sports participation as we age. A poll from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that, though almost three in four adults (73%) say they played sports when they were younger, only one in four (25%) continue to play in adulthood.
There are so many benefits to playing team sports, no matter your age or level of ability. Read on to learn just a few of the reasons you should consider making them a part of your and your children’s lives.
Improve Your Physical Health
Most of us do not get enough exercise. According to the CDC, around 60% of US adults do not meet recommended physical activity goals, and approximately 25% are not physically active at all. Teenagers are also not getting enough activity as a whole, with 75% of high school students not meeting daily physical activity guidelines and girls faring worse than boys in this area.
Team sports, from football and soccer to basketball, baseball, and hockey, are an excellent way to ensure you and your children incorporate enough physical activity into your lives. Playing these sports raises the heart rate and improves cardiovascular fitness, strengthens the bones and muscles, and improves physical skills such as balance, coordination, and dexterity.
Consistency is one of the most important factors in getting and staying fit. Playing on a sports team ensures that regular exercise becomes a part of your routine as most teams practice or play at least once per week.
Boost Your Brain Power
Research suggests that playing sports regularly may make your brain function more optimally. Participating in sports can enhance your ability to concentrate, improve your focus and ability to tune out extraneous background noise, and even reorganize neural networks in your brain.
Sports can also improve your memory and ability to learn and retain new information. And, because being active boosts blood flow to the brain, you might find yourself feeling mentally sharper, more creative, and better able to solve problems.
Make Friends and Work As a Team
The main reason that people of all ages play sports is because they are fun, and one of the biggest advantages of playing team sports is that you will make new friends. Social interaction promotes a positive mood, reduces stress, and helps you to enjoy life.
Doing an activity that you enjoy together is a great way to bond with other people, and you might make lifelong friends on the soccer field, basketball court, or hockey rink.
People who play team sports also tend to be good team players in all areas of life. This can help you to do better at work or school and to retain harmonious relationships with others in both your work and personal life.
It can even help you out if you’re looking for a job! Playing on a sports team looks great on your resume because it shows prospective employers that you are used to working together with others towards a common goal.
Enjoy Better Mental and Emotional Health
Sports are amazing for your physical health, but did you know that they can improve your mental health, too? Exercise is well known to boost mental wellbeing by providing an outlet for stress and releasing feel-good brain chemicals such as endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. In addition, striving for and then reaching goals in your chosen sport can give your self esteem a positive lift.
Playing a team sport can also be particularly beneficial to mental health due to the social aspect. Research has shown that playing team sports can reduce symptoms of depression in children by providing a sense of community, purpose, and belonging.
Where to Find a Sports Team
If you or your child is at school, college, or university, there are probably numerous sports teams right on your doorstep that you can try. You can also check out local gyms or sports centers, or search online for clubs in your area.
Many sports teams and clubs offer free trial sessions to new members or “have a go” days for the public. This is a good way to dip your toe in and find out what sports you might enjoy.
Don’t worry if it takes you a few attempts to find the right sport or the right team for you. The benefits will pay off!