One of the exciting things about modern life is the number of opportunities people have to explore the world and everything it has to offer. Travel has become far more widespread, even to the most remote regions of the world. The Internet has opened up a whole new raft of social, cultural and educational opportunities, and there are many other ways to experience personal growth and enjoyment. One of the most exhilarating and accessible areas for self-development and discovery is in sport, so if you haven’t taken the plunge yet, have a look at all the reasons why you should take up a new sport.
Why sport is so great
We all know that exercise is good for us, keeping us healthy, active, more able, more mentally alert, happier and increasing our longevity. The trouble is that for many people it can feel like a real chore, slogging away at the gym three times a week. Sport is a fantastic alternative to gym-based exercise, as it has additional attractions and benefits:
- Competition: most of us have a competitive streak, at least some degree, and sports that involve an element of competition can be far more motivating than simple exercise. The challenge of scoring more points, beating an opposing team, or achieving the best performance can be an electrifying and rewarding experience and something that you want to repeat.
- Challenge: The challenges above of being on the winning side or beating your fellow competitors can be highly motivating, in many cases driving people to push themselves far further than they would have thought possible.
- Distraction: the concentration and focus required for sport can be a very effective way of clearing the mind of all your other mental clutter because you can’t learn and perform at your best if you are thinking about anything else. When you are abseiling down a cliff, you are unlikely to be worrying about the presentation you are due to give to your boss the following week! Being able to clear your brain by diverting your attention away from the stresses of everyday life is an excellent way to deal with stress and avoid mental strain.
- Socializing: Most sports have a very strong element of social interaction linked to them, making them a great way of hooking up with friends, meeting new people and forming close social bonds. Whether you play a team sport like soccer, or you compete individually, you will still have the pleasure of being amongst people who share a common passion. Many individual sports also have opportunities for teams to compete, so for example, if you play tennis, you can compete as an individual, as a member of a doubles team and as a representative of your club, city, state, or even your country if you excel.
- It’s exercise, but not as we know it: How fit you need to be, and in what way, will depend on the sport you take up. If you join a distance running club, then you will need to build up your cardiovascular fitness; if you play golf you need to work on flexibility and strength, and if you take up show-jumping you’ll need to practice your balancing skills and build up your core strength. This means that you can choose a sport that suits what you are happy doing physically, so if you hate the idea of running, you can go for archery instead. Even the least physical sounding sports have a surprisingly high level of physical activity involved, so whatever you find that you enjoy doing will be doing you good
- It can lead to new horizons: If you are competing in a sport you love doing, you’ll barely notice the physical exertion because your mind will be so focused on the enjoyment and competition. Therefore, many people who take up a sport for the pleasure of it become so enthusiastic that they start working out to improve their performance, and they often become involved in more advanced levels of their chosen sport. There are also opportunities to become coaches, assistants, referees, judges, marshalls, organizers, and many other roles that are required for sporting events to be able to operate. There are also volunteering opportunities overseas that could help you share your love for your sport with disadvantaged people around the world.
Selecting your sport
There are far more sports out there than you probably imagine. As well as the well-known, mainstream activities, there are many alternative sports in all kinds of different disciplines. The best way to start if you’re not sure what you want to do is to have a look in your local area and see what clubs and classes are available. You may come across a sport you didn’t even know exist that sounds right up your street. If you’re a big Harry Potter fan, did you know there are Quidditch clubs you can join? Admittedly you won’t be flying on a magical broomstick surrounded by witches and wizards, but you will have a lot of fun with the muggle version! Or how about thinking about what you are already good at and seeing what activities relate to your abilities?
For example, if you are known for being stronger than your friends, why not have a try at weightlifting? It may well be something you would both enjoy and be good at, so it’s worth giving it a try. It’s something that is becoming increasingly popular for both sexes, and you can find specialist equipment such as weightlifting shoes for women via Shoe Guide, as well as having female trainers. Boxing is another sport usually associated with men, but that women have started to excel at. There are so many possibilities that if you look hard enough, you’re sure to find something that will appeal to you.
Playing sport has so many physical, mental and social advantages that it’s something everyone should consider getting involved with. Disabilities needn’t be a barrier to participation, because there are blind soccer teams, wheelchair basketball – look at the achievements of disabled athletes at the Paralympics and Invictus Games! Sport is an amazing way to keep fit, improve your health, expand your horizons and have some fun, so what are you waiting for?