What Are the Benefits of Sports & Physical Activities?
Your body needs regular physical activity in order to maintain strength, stamina, cardiovascular health and proper blood circulation. Your mind needs activity to stay sharp and balanced. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity per week, as well as twice a week weight resistance training. The benefits of changing your lifestyle from a sedentary one to an active one are significant, and it doesn’t take that much effort to reap the rewards.
Physical Health Benefits
Physical activity improves your immune system and helps you stave off illness, such as the common cold, as well as decreases your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Exercise and sports help you lose and maintain a healthy weight. Activity improves blood circulation, increases coordination and stamina, prevents bone loss and may help you live longer. According to the American Heart Association, an active lifestyle can reduce coronary heart disease by 30 to 40 percent. Additionally, moderate exercise can reduce your chance of getting a stroke by 20 percent, which increases to 27 percent with regular, intense physical activity.
Exercise and activity increases chemicals in your brain such as endorphins, adrenaline and serotonin, which improves your mood, decreases depression, lessens symptoms of ADHD, improves executive functioning skills, helps you manage stress and boosts your energy level. Playing sports is a social activity that can help you meet people, make new friends and increases self-esteem.
Incorporate exercise and sports into your daily life. Plan a walking date with friends, instead of meeting for lunch. Join a local gym and schedule time in your calendar, as you would any other appointment. Get exercise videos and play your favorite music while you’re doing them. Walk while talking on the phone. Take dancing lessons, or dance at home in between doing household chores. Jump rope 10 minutes a day, or install a trampoline in your back yard. If you play golf, walk instead of taking a golf cart. Start off your day with a swim or briskly walk your dog around your neighborhood.
Exercise at Work
Even if you have a traditionally sedentary occupation, there are ways to incorporate exercise into your workplace. Change your mindset to a more active one. Walk down the hall to speak to a co-worker instead of instant messaging them or calling them on the phone. Brainstorm project ideas while walking, instead of sitting down in a meeting. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park your car far away from the office and walk to work. Form a walking group with co-workers during lunchtime or start a sports team within your company and play ball.
Bonnie Crowe is a mother of two teenagers; a teacher and author of children's books, curriculum and articles on English grammar, literature, technology, art, parenting and career guides for high schoolers. She's a former director of AOL Parenting, a member of SCBWI, and a graduate from the University of California,Berkeley.