Playing team sports is one of the best ways to keep fit and improve your physical health, but even better, it could also be greatly beneficial to your mental health, research has suggested. It isn’t exactly news that exercise can improve your state of mind, given what we know about endorphins, however people who participate in team sports, especially from a young age, have been found to be happier and healthier than those who do not, with their overall life satisfaction and physical health ranking noticeably higher.
As well as making you feel good about yourself physically, playing team sports like netball or football gives people a sense of belonging and a shared identity that is difficult to match in other areas of life, or indeed, in individualistic sports. Being part of a team can be a great confidence boost, and sharing the sense of achievement that comes from competitions or meeting goals and targets with a group of similarly minded people can instill a great sense of joy in a person and increase their overall self esteem.
Ultimate frisbee woman’s team practicing in banff by Jon Ross
Moreover, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to get out there and exercise when you are doing it alone. Playing in a team is undoubtedly the best motivator there is. Though it increases responsibility, as many other people are dependent on your actions, it also significantly increases the reward, and having other people around that are routing for you encourages team members to play harder, giving you a more intense and better quality work out without you even realising it. Plus, once you become part of a team, you’re likely to be more inclined to train in your own free time to better your performance and for the overall benefit of your fellow team mates.
Team sports, in short, turn exercising into a fun, sociable activity. Rather than seeing it as a grueling chore or dreading going for that run alone, you instead are surrounded by people you know and relate to, people that will encourage you to do better in multiple areas of life. Socialising is a huge factor of someone’s mental state and happiness, and not socialising enough can lead to feelings of loneliness or even depression. Playing sports as a team is one thing that can help relieve, or prevent, negative feelings and keep you happy in your day to day life.
It’s also a huge learning curve. You learn to work as part of a team and to cooperate with other people, invaluable skills that can be applied in every area of life, from work to family. With so many great social clubs and events out there, like London’s Go Mammoth who have leagues for everything from Netball and Football to Volleyball and Ultimate Frisbee, it’s never too late to start playing team sports, get fit, healthy and make memories that will stay with you forever.