Top 16 Benefits of Playing Sports

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Sarah Pledger (M.S., R.D.)

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Sports are universal, and playing sports is a favorite activity and stress relief for many people around the world. It provides us with enjoyment and also freshens up our mind. However, playing sports is more than running, jumping, or kicking a ball on the field. Indulging in sports helps our body function smoothly and more efficiently.

Sports helps not only strengthens the body but also to connect and coordinate the neuromuscular connections between muscles to achieve full-body coordination. In addition to these physical benefits, the social interaction in sports combats depression, anxiety and helps create positive relationships, communities, and long term mental health in participants.

Health Benefits of Playing Sports

Let’s have a look at the benefits of playing sports in detail.

Healthy Heart

Research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that physical activity helps lower the risk of heart attacks. Playing sports helps with stretching ability of the heart’s ventricles thereby allowing the heart to pump more blood with each beat. When the heart can pump more blood with each beat, your heart becomes more efficient and effective.

Diabetes Management & Prevention

Research performed by the Human Movement Sciences Department, Old Dominion University, Virginia, USA, has concluded that playing sports helps in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.

Young woman playing tennis on a tennis court

Tennis is a good recreational sport to keep you fit. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Weight Management

Obesity is a big issue faced by millions of people across the world. Over 55% of the adults in the US are obese, which is indirectly paving a way for chronic conditions. The American College of Sports Medicine says that this issue can be dealt with by indulging in sports or similar physical activities. In addition to this hunger was found to be suppressed by exercise in a study done by the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. This study found that a hormone that induces hunger, ghrelin, was lowered in participants who exercised.

Lower Hypertension

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, may result in a stroke or heart disease. The National Health Service, UK suggests that aside from diet management, sports and physical activities are important to keep the blood pressure normal.

Balanced Cholesterol Levels

Playing sports also helps in maintaining lower cholesterol levels. A 2009 report revealed that a 90-minute soccer match decreased the triglyceride and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels of the twenty-two professional players who participated in the study.

Improved Blood Circulation

Blood circulation gets better when you start playing sports. The body remains well oxygenated and thus, it remains more healthy and active. Apart from blood circulation, being physically active can also increase the hemoglobin count and the volume of blood.

Stronger Immunity

Regularly indulging in exercise and sports makes the body immune to many diseases that usually affect a person due to weak immunity. When a person exercises, the rate at which white blood cells reach every body part increases significantly. Playing sports increases sweat production and also removes toxins.

Muscle Training and Toning

Sports could be the most integrative, fun, and the best form of workout for muscles. Strong, toned muscles are always desirable and that’s what you get when you consistently play active sports such as soccer, tennis, jogging, racquetball, baseball, and kickball. Both the strength and endurance of muscles also increases with time and consistency of engaging in sports.

Stronger Bones

Playing sports is beneficial in strengthening not only the muscles but also the bones in your body. Bones get their strength from increasing bone density which happens as you continually ‘load’ the bones with high power and strength movements. For example, running while playing sports loads the bone with much more weight than simply walking. This creates an adaptation within the bone in response to the increased stress for the bone to grow denser to be able to withstand this increased loading in the future. When you consistently apply stress to the bone it will continue to strengthen and become denser.

Aging naturally decreases bone density, which can result in osteoporosis if we do not have our bone density up in youth and middle age. Taking up sports is perhaps one of the easiest ways to maintain bone density and strength for people of all ages.

Positive Attitude

Sports can bring a positive attitude to your life if played healthily. It refreshes the mind and helps in developing a positive and fresh outlook on life. A 2018 special edition of the Journal of Sport and Health Science (JSHS) revealed that team sports can not just enhance positivity in individuals, but it can bring communities together and build them too.

Boosts Self-esteem

Playing any particular sport helps in building self-esteem. When one improves in any particular sport or skill, one feels good about it.

Discipline

Discipline becomes a natural part of life when you start spending time playing sports. This is because sports inspire people to live life by certain rules and regulations and move towards a positive end. Children who indulge in sports feel healthier, and develop better and healthier relationships with other people because a positive, team-based outlook is instilled in them.

Mutual Respect

Playing sports builds mutual respect for others as it includes playing opposite people but at the same time respecting them even if they have a negative attitude towards you.

Calmness

Sports train your mind to think calmly and find new strategies to deal with problems without getting too hyper.

Teamwork

Playing sports helps you build good relationships with people from diverse backgrounds and traits. It encourages teamwork and thus helps in preparing you to work with different people harmoniously.

Goal Setting

Goal setting means that every person needs to have an idea about what he/she wants, whether it is in a game or life. Sports may help in goal-setting and will improve performance levels in other areas of life.

An infographic on benefits of playing sports

Playing sports helps you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Safety Tips

  • Play under Expert Supervision: Try playing sports under the supervision of experienced players in the beginning and take their advice on how to play the game without getting hurt.
  • Do Warm-up Exercises: These exercises help increase the elasticity of muscles, which prevents muscle injuries, cramps, and sprains.
  • Stay Hydrated: Athletes of all ages should begin their activities in a well-hydrated state to avoid a dip in performance as well as dehydration-related health conditions.
  • Acclimation in Hot and Humid Conditions: If you plan to play sports in the heat for longer than an hour and a half, it is a good idea to add a sports drink. Take breaks and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid Playing on Rainy or Stormy Days: It is best to not play during severe weather conditions such as lightning.
    Concussions: Make sure children wear helmets if cycling. If you have suffered a head injury, it is advisable to visit the doctor.
  • Cool-down Exercises: It is important to do gentle stretches and rest after playing any sport. The heart rate normalizes and the muscles relax.
  • Start small if you are a Senior Citizen: Older people should start with small sessions because the body tends to lose its muscle capacity with age. It is best to consult with a doctor and a trained expert before starting a new exercise regimen.
  • Obesity and exercise: Obese people should indulge in sports in a controlled manner as they are more susceptible to sports injuries.

Make Sports a Part of Your Lifestyle

Playing sports should not be limited to the field of your school, college, or community. Even when you’re at home or working, sparing at least 30 minutes for any sport you love can be very helpful.

It is not advisable to only see sports as a strenuous activity that you are doing for the sake of health. Instead, take it as a hobby and enjoy it. Encourage your family members to be a part of your sport too. This will give a boost to the overall health of the family.

Activities such as cycling, swimming, running, and even walking are some of the physical activities that can be done daily. It must not be forgotten that playing sports alone will not give you a healthy body and mind. Many other factors such as nutritional intake, the stress levels in your life, or even the clothes or shoes that you’re wearing must also be considered.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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