If you belong to a gym, you already understand the advantages of “keeping fit.” Athletic participation takes fitness to a new level. Many organizations, including the European Commission, the World Health Organization, the Americas Council of Sports and the Commonwealth Advisory Body on Sport have conducted research studies whose results point to measurable psychological and social advantages of sport participation. Perhaps you should join the game. Here’s why.
Enhanced Caloric Expenditure
Sport requires constant physical activity, and increased physical activity translates into increased caloric expenditure. The difference between sport participation and running on a treadmill is that during sport, you don’t have to do things to prevent you from getting bored, and you rarely watch the clock in anticipation of the workout coming to an end. During dreary winters, sports such as alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing get you out of the house and on to the sunny mountains.
And Speaking of Sunshine
Despite the health dangers inherent to excessive sun exposure, a 2009 article in the Wellness section of the “New York Times” argues that sunshine is still the best source of vitamin D. The author cites studies performed at the Atascadero State Hospital, whose results indicate that athletes exposed to vitamin D-producing ultraviolet light demonstrated superior levels of athletic performance. Vitamin D also enhances bone health, thereby preventing osteoporosis, whilst increasing the size of your fast twitch muscle fibers.
About that Bone Density
An article featured in “Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach” detailed the evaluation of 560 athletes who participated in the 2005 National Senior Games. The 298 women and 289 men practiced an eclectic selection of high-impact sports. Their bone mineral tests indicated that they had healthy bone density.
Improved Balance, Coordination and Agility
Athletes boast impressive balance, coordination, proprioception, which is the body’s awareness of its position in space, and agility, which is your ability to react to stimuli without losing balance, alignment, or optimal movement mechanics. Without constant challenge, these qualities will diminish with age. The stationary bike and the weight machines at the gym will do nothing for any of these factors. Get in the game and preserve your youth.
Enforces Productive Health Habits
Sport participation gives you one more reason to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as indicated by a study published in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine.” The research team followed 551 athletic men and 199 athletic women over a seven year period. Only 1.4 percent of the subjects suffered a non-fatal heart attack and only 0.6 percent needed bypass surgery over the seven year period. The former smokers told the research team that they had stopped smoking prior to their athletic training.
Training for an athletic event gives your workouts a raison d’etre, especially since sports produce measurable improvements. There’s nothing like achieving a personal best to motivate you to do your conditioning program. Let one of our personal trainers help you find the sport that’s best for you!