The benefits of exercise
There are numerous benefits to be gained from exercise, including improvements to health, energy and wellbeing, and the chance to learn new skills and gain social benefits.
From a health point of view, physical activity helps “increase your heart health, lower your blood pressure, improve your lung capacity, lower your cholesterol and help reduce the risk of various diseases,” says Lucy.
According to recent research published in the medical journal The Lancet, physical inactivity causes nine per cent of premature deaths – or more than 5.3 million deaths worldwide each year. If levels of inactivity are reduced by 10 per cent, 533,000 deaths could be avoided; if they’re reduced by 25 per cent, then 1.3 million lives could be saved.
Sport can be a very social experience, giving you the chance to meet new people and learn valuable new skills, plus it can boost your wellbeing and self-esteem, and make you feel good about yourself.
Which sport would suit you?
With so many different sports out there, it can be hard to know which to try. All sports have their own benefits, require particular skills and can be hugely enjoyable, but the key is to find the right one for you.
Here are some tips from Lucy on how to choose a sport to suit your needs and personality.
If you have a very competitive personality and like to be part of a team, try sports such as:
- Table tennis
All these sports are ideal, as they require you to use every fitness component. You’ll need good team playing skills and get to boost your endurance, speed, stamina, balance and muscular strength.
If you’re a highly competitive person, but prefer to operate on your own, even though you still enjoy a good, high energy workout, then try:
- Track cycling
- Road cycling
All these sports also involve the major components of fitness and you’ll get to work on your speed, stamina, motor skills and endurance.
If you prefer to work out at a slower pace and focus more on skill and coordination, then the following sports could be more suited to you:
All of these sports will help you develop balance, flexibility, core strength, coordination and new skills.
Or, if normal sports don’t take your fancy, consider a more unconventional sport such as yoga, salsa or tai chi.
How to get involved with sport
Sport is a great equaliser – anyone of any age, background and ability can get involved. Whether you’re a beginner, returner or experienced sportsperson, getting into a regular routine, such as doing sports on certain days a week, can help you stay motivated and keep going.
Whilst some sports, like swimming, can successfully be done on your own, many people find it more motivating and encouraging to join a team, club or class. For beginners, this is particularly useful, as you benefit from expert tuition and guidance, which provides a good basis for learning, plus you don’t feel so isolated in what you’re doing and gain the social aspects and support of exercising with others.
In addition, it gives you the chance to try out a sport and ensure you really like it before committing to buy the necessary equipment or kit.
“For everyone, from the elderly, disabled, young, middle aged or simply complete beginners to sport and exercise, one thing that is guaranteed is that you’ll reap the benefits from being active and become winners of your own health,” concludes Lucy.
Active Places - www.activeplaces.co.uk
The Games and beyond - www.thegamesandbeyond.com/goplay
Sport England - www.sportengland.org
English Federation of Disability Sports - www.efds.co.uk
Yoodo Sports - www.yoodosports.com
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