Sport is good for you – and it’s not just about keeping fit. We already know, and we’re told by many eminent people that regular exercise is good for us.
But as somebody who plays sport regularly I’ve learnt that it is about much more than just the physical exercise. We’ll start with some widely accepted views. First doing regular exercise helps your vital organs. Getting the heart pumping, the lungs working deeply and the legs or arm muscles working hard helps improve the strength and stamina that we have. This in turn helps us fight other diseases more effectively and stay generally healthy. Also of course if you play competitive sport regularly, you are more likely to have a mental attitude which is more combative, and you will fight back.
The second key fact is that sport is a key way of losing weight or keeping weight off. Doing some exercise that leaves you breathless (no, apart from that) will ultimately help burn fat. Remember that at first it will probably hurt a bit: console yourself with the old adage “no pain, no gain.” And you know the arguments about not putting on weight. Being lighter puts less strain on your muscles and your heart, so you are likely to have less pain in your joints, and a stronger heart, and you live longer!
So what else? Sport is good for your soul too. Just by playing, or taking part in an active sport often means you commit yourself to doing things at set times with other people. So if you play football, you’ll need to turn up on time to train or play matches. If you play tennis, badminton or squash, you will arrange games with others. And if you go running or to the gym it is a great idea to do it with someone else. It simply makes you more committed. If you’ve already committed and you’ve had a heavy day at work and you don’t really want to go out and exercise tonight, you are more likely to do it anyway if you’ve agreed to meet another person. I’ve spoken to many other people (and I experience this myself) who say that after you’ve taken your exercise and you’ve had a shower and a drink, you always feel much better, and the troubles of your day seem to melt away. It is a great mental detox. It is easier to put your troubles back in their box, and get things into proportion more. So as I said, it is good for the soul – the busier and more stressful your day, the more you need this to balance out your life.
Playing sport with another person or people also gets things into proportion for another reason too. It is easy during downtime at the end of the day to dwell on things that have happened during the day, and in these challenging times to feel down or frustrated. But you know that the other person or people don’t want to hear about it – so quite simply you don’t burden them with your woes. You focus on something else – hopefully something that you have in common, and which is more positive. This is a good thing for your soul, your mental condition and it helps achieve a better work life balance.
We all say we want a good work life balance but this is one easy and important part of achieving that. Here endeth the lesson! Above all, seek out things you can enjoy in life and have fun!