For those of us that are out of school and engaged in the work force in some capacity, picking up a sport may not seem like a necessity at this point. Maybe you would rather spend your free time relaxing or going out for drinks. Maybe you’ve put on a few pounds since your high school or college sports career ended and you feel your sports career is over. Or maybe you simply don’t think playing in a league is something adults do. However, the reality is that there are numerous benefits for picking up a sport as an adult.
Firstly, and I mention it quite a bit, some form of fitness routine needs to exist in each of our lives. Becoming our the best version of ourselves means taking care of our bodies. Fitness takes time, and that can be the reasoning for a lot of people to avoid daily exercise, because after a long day of work they’d rather crash on the couch than hit the gym or go for a run. Personally, I love weightlifting and calisthenics, so a daily regimen isn’t a stretch. What I do dislike though is cardio. Sports are a great way to get your daily dose of cardio without having to go for a long run or hit the stationary bike. I currently play in an indoor soccer league, and after 50 minute games I’m completely spent. Each week, my cardio improves, and I’m able to increase my efforts on the field.
The initial effort to get back into a sport is what I find to be the biggest stumbling block, even for former athletes. I know a few athletes that played 2 or 3 sports all through high school, or even played a college sport, that simply do not have the motivation to get back on the field or court in their 20s. Lack of motivation is what plagues their decision-making. Maybe the same is effecting your decisions as well. So to convince you to get out there and play a sport, I want to give you a couple benefits to help you understand how playing in a sports league will help your life, regardless of your age.
Physical health, as we’ve been discussing already, is clearly the most obvious benefit of getting involved with sports as an adult. If you’re having difficulty sticking to a weightlifting or cardio schedule, a sport is a great way to have a definitive time each week to obligate yourself to go play. It’s easy to skip a gym session by yourself, but harder to skip a game that has teammates depending on you.
Playing once or twice a week is a solid start to a fitness program. Most sports have some form of cardio and strength within the game play, so you’ll be working your muscles and burning some calories. Once you start seeing a bit of strength improvement or the loss of a few pounds, the exercise bug tends to hit you and you want to continue to involve yourself in physical activity so that you can look and feel better.
Dedication is a concept utilized in the athletic world. Showing up to an obligated activity, even one you enjoy, increases your commitment levels not only to your team and your sport, but in your life. Commitment in other areas becomes easier. Jobs. Relationships. Fitness. We also inherently have the desire to dedicate and commit ourselves to self improvement and competence. We want to get better at all that we do, both for ourselves and to increase others’ perception of our abilities. Think about the workplace. Even if we don’t enjoy our jobs, we want to be good at them so that others will respect our intelligence and/or competence in our field. This concept resonates in sports, giving us a desire to improve and commit to our role.
Discipline is huge in sports as well. Ask any parent of child athletes. When we’re young, our coaches demand our respect and attention, and teach us to follow instruction, work as a whole unit, and strive to improve. While hopefully we are all able to listen to instruction as adults, we can certainly benefit from working as a team and striving to improve. Sports help with team unity, realizing that each individual needs to be disciplined in their role to help the team as a whole, not just seek individual achievement.
Camaraderie also exists through sport. You’re spending time with like-minded individuals and have your chosen sport in common, providing a social aspect to the sport you’re partaking in. If you join a league with friends, you have a social outlet each week that is more beneficial than going to the bar or club. You’re having fun in a way that is healthy and great for your body and mind. You and your friends will grow closer, because working as a team promotes trust and respect on the field, which translates to trust and respect off the field.
If you don’t have a bunch of friends that want to play a sport with you, just join a team. Most leagues have a “house” team where individuals that want to play but can’t roster a team can join. Here you get to make new friends similar to you, providing new avenues of friendship and, once again, a social outfit that is beneficial for your body.
Age doesn’t matter
Now some of you may be thinking that you’re not in your 20s and this is a bit of a stretch for your particular situation. For those individuals I’d like to use my father as an example, who is 52 years old and plays soccer twice a week minimum, all year round. A few months ago he even went to Florida for an over-50 nationals tournament. Regardless of difficulties faced or busy periods of his life, he has maintained his love of sports, which has in turn helped to improve his quality of life.
At 24 years old he had moved across the country and had a newborn child. Parents I’m sure wouldn’t judge if he stopped playing sports there, as having a child is extremely demanding for both parents in terms of time. He didn’t stop. With yours truly in the capable hands of a babysitter or family member, my parents would hit the beach for 2 on 2 volleyball tournaments.
As my father has aged, he’s transitioned from volleyball to hockey and then back to his first love, soccer. He plays in college and high school alumni games, and even picked up curling recently to expand his repertoire. Life gets busy, but there is always time to relieve some stress and step away from a long day to get out and play. I know that he has had plenty of work difficulties and stresses, but even in the toughest of times if you went and talked to him he’ll be quick to start telling you about his recent soccer game and analyzing his play. 52 years old and still going strong, staying mentally and physically fit, and raising quality of life through sport.
Get out there
There are plenty of leagues out there for almost any sport. My recommendations can only do so much to convince you. Eventually, you have to take the leap of faith and join a team. Maybe find a weekly pick-up opportunity to start so you can get a feel for playing each week without committing financially to a league. I’d wager that you’ll enjoy it enough to go take that next step. Remember, influential gentlemen take care of their bodies and strive to be the best version of themselves. Playing a sport helps to accomplish that both physically and through additional benefits we’ve discussed.
For those of you that played sports in the past especially, rekindle that love for the game. You may be surprised how it positively effects your life in general.