Playing Sports Makes the Best Workout

Why Playing a Sport Makes the Best Fitness Workout

Waiting for the ball

Photo: Bruno Girin CC-By-2.0

There comes a time in your life when you realize that you’re putting on weight and that you need to do something about it – you may have changed your routine or food habits, your lifestyle could have become more sedentary, or your metabolism may have slowed down because you’re growing older or losing muscle mass. Whatever the reason for weight gain, there is no excuse for not trying to burn off those excess pounds. However, not everyone is able to stick to a regular gym routine or afford a personal trainer. If you don’t make exercise a routine aspect of your life, you’re definitely going to keep putting on weight.

In the two years following my marriage, I found to my horror that I had added more than 40 pounds to my already large frame. I took to playing tennis, a game that I loved when in college, as a way to stay fit. I found that it was easy to stay on course and also get a good workout every day because:

  • It’s a group event: I could not call and cancel just because I felt lazy and did not feel like playing – when you know that others depend on you for their daily game, you are responsible for showing up unless you’re ill or otherwise indisposed. Come rain or shine (the indoor courts helped), I was there, playing my heart out and sweating off the extra pounds that I carried. When you get involved in a sport, there are other people involved in your workout too, so it’s harder for you to shirk responsibility.
  • Each day brings something new: Gym routines get stale after a while because you do the same thing every day. You may change the order of things once in a while, but still, it’s all an old hat. A sport however offers you something new every day. Every game is different, every point is different; so each day brings something new and this eggs you on to come back the next day and see what it holds. Playing a sport is a great way to stay motivated about your exercise routine.
  • You’re motivated to excel: It’s not easy to play a sport at any level on a regular basis if you’re unfit and unhealthy. Your sense of competitiveness and innate nature to want to win drive you to focus on your fitness and the skills you need to play the game harder and better. You train in other ways too, to boost your stamina and learn sports-specific skills. When I started playing, I was advised by a well-meaning friend to go jogging three days a week and work out with light weights twice a week so that my fitness and muscle strength improved. Also, when you’re fit and able to move fluidly on court or on the field, you avoid injuries that put you out of the game indefinitely.
  • The camaraderie is great: No matter how great the company at the gym, nothing beats the camaraderie you share with your teammates and the opposition when playing a sport. The good-natured ribbing, the healthy competition, the bonding with teammates, and the victories you taste help boost your mood and improve your spirits. Your mind gets a good workout too even as your body loses weight.
  • It is addictive: I’ve had two knee surgeries in the course of two years (to repair torn ligaments), and the only thing that pushed me through the intense rehab routine was my love for the game of tennis. If I hadn’t been such an addict, I would have lost the will to exercise my thighs and knees, strengthen them and improve my range of motion, and build up my stamina and fitness so that I could return to the court. Only the thought of never being able to play again drove me to do all that it took to get back to the game. A sport does that to you – it gives you reasons to exercise instead of making you find excuses to avoid it.

About the author:

Paul Hench writes on the topic of master in public health programs. He welcomes your comments at his email.

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10 Responses to “Playing Sports Makes the Best Workout”

  1. [...] original post here: Playing Sports Makes the Best Workout Tagged with: every-day • good-workout • group-event • playing-tennis • [...]

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  6. Todd says:

    @Paul, thanks for writing this for us. We were talking about it yesterday, and both agree that a sport like tennis is a fantastic way to workout. I don’t think I could do it for every workout, but once a week would be a great change of pace.

  7. Anne says:

    I used to love playing tennis in high school. This has piqued my interest.

  8. I like the first point you made there, but I am not sure I could reasonably apply that in a contructive way.

  9. Todd says:

    @Wedding Party, What do you see as the obstacle with committing to others that you will be there?

  10. Awesome post paul, it’s been a long-time since I’ve been on here. I see that nobody has lost their passion. Good to be back.

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