As a child, every evening you would play a sport. Either badminton, football or cricket, or race each other, and you also joined the sports team in school. But as school changed to college and then university, your time for sports decreased. Footballs and cricket bats were replaced with dumbbells and resistance bands. But did you know that playing a sport is more beneficial to the body than your usual workouts? 

To learn more TC46 connected with Jyoti Ann Burrett, a certified trainer at Nike and footballer for the Indian Women’s League. Here she shares her views on taking up a sport in adulthood and suggests 5 easy sports one can learn. 

1. Playing a sport is better for the body, than mundane exercises

Sports incorporate elements over and above regular exercise such as reaction time, coordination, balance and agility which are vital yet missing in mundane workouts. It also incorporates aerobic and anaerobic cardiovascular exercise as well as functional strength, all key elements needed to be fit. Add that to the social and fun aspect of the sport and it’s the complete package!

2. Playing a sport helps maintain muscle mass, from your 20s to 50s

I feel that a lot of girls up to their teenage years are quite active given the compulsory nature of exercise/sport in schools but as they leave school behind and get involved in jobs, their marriages, raising children, exercise and sport take a back seat. Women in their 20s and 30s are at their peak in terms of oestrogen levels and need to capitalize on this to maximise muscle and bone density in their bodies. This muscle and bone density will take a hit in their 40s and 50s as a result of the onset of menopause, where their oestrogen levels will plummet. This fall in oestrogen can lead to a sharp fall in muscle mass and bone density which in turn opens the door to osteoporosis. 

Playing a sport right through from your 20s to your 50s helps maintain muscle mass and bone density which lowers the risk of osteoporosis. Apart from the health benefits, women who play sports have proven to be better decision-makers, leaders and team members at their workplaces, helping them excel in their careers.

3. Learn a sport that you like and is convenient

If you’re just starting out, pick up a sport that is convenient for you and that you enjoy. If those two factors are present, chances are that you will stick to them. 

Sport must always be fun. If you don’t enjoy it, you’ll never want to play it. Sport must always be convenient. If you had to travel 100km to play a sport, which needs tons of equipment, chances are that you’ll do it short term but you won’t be able to keep at it. With consistency and interest, one can pick up just about any sport. It also helps to have a friend in a group of people with whom you can play this sport. It adds a social element and makes the activity a lot more fun.

When it comes to picking a sport, there are so many options! Badminton, football, squash, tennis, basketball, swimming, water polo, volleyball, table tennis, hockey, cross country running, box cricket, ultimate frisbee! Remember to pick a sport that you really like.

4. A person’s age should not be a restriction to pursue a particular sport

There is no age restriction or a certain age to pursue/ learn a particular sport. You can pick up absolutely any sport at any age if you start slowly and progress gradually.
The 5 easy sports in terms of convenience and complexity would be:

  • Squash
  • Tennis
  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Badminton

5. A like-minded group or a friend can help you keep up with the sport

The best way to learn a sport would be to do it with a friend or a group of like-minded people. A community indulging in the sport together is always a better learning environment for someone new to it, as the learner gets the support they require to carry on. A friend or the group keeps you accountable, which keeps you from dropping the idea or not showing up.
Make the most out of it by giving your sport dedicated time. 

Some points to remember: 

  • Work on the basics
  • Don’t get into the complex nuances of perfect technique – you aren’t aiming to compete in the Olympics
  • Get the basics right and then play it without any fear of failure or any pressure of performance

A good coach who can teach you the basics and help you get maximum activity and enjoyment from the sport can be very helpful.

6. Sports can help tackle health issues & improve flexibility/mobility and weight loss

The positive impact on health, flexibility, mobility and weight loss are by-products of playing a sport. You will by default get fitter if you play a sport. All sports require movement, reaction time, agility and concentration. It will work the lungs, the heart, the muscles and the central nervous system just as well or sometimes better than regular exercise would.

7. Common misconceptions or mistakes one can make when learning a sport

Some of the common misconceptions include: 

  • Sport is dangerous and too strenuous for older people or people who haven’t played before
  • Training needs to be hours and hours of gruelling work with a coach who is constantly yelling at your lack of ability 
  • You are either a natural or then no amount of practice can make you better than a sport

But sports is for everyone. It can be as exhausting and gruelling as you want it to be. If you are playing a sport recreationally, training doesn’t have to be as hard or taxing as it would be for a person playing it professionally. Yes, some people are naturally good at some sports but absolutely anybody can learn and get there with practice.

The important thing to remember is to have fun while you’re playing. Let the competitiveness with yourself and your opponents be present but keep it healthy, not cut-throat. Let sport do its magic and bring out your child-like energy.

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