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Now is the time to join a league sport — here’s why

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Plenty of exercise programs mirror sports to get results. In-home systems or fitness apps can certainly achieve results but can’t provide that in-person dynamic we all inevitably need at some point.

Meanwhile, the weather’s warm, people are getting out more, and it may be high time we rediscovered a classic: the good, old-fashioned team sport.

From basketball to frisbee golf, baseball to darts, there’s a team sport for every temperament. That goes just as much for leagues where fitness isn’t necessarily the main objective.

Here’s a look at the wide-ranging and well-documented health benefits of team sports, as well as calorie counts for popular team sports and a word on how to pick the right one for you!

Benefits of team sports

Yes, there is a strong fitness component to most team sports and sports leagues. Just as much as any other moderate-to-intense physical activities, most team sports can help make the body stronger, faster, more flexible, and better able to ward off a host of health problems like heart disease and cancer.

But when you’re talking about team sports, the benefits start to get a little more targeted beyond the purely physical.

A group plays pickleball
A group plays pickleball bhpix/Shutterstock

They can improve mental health

There was a telling quote from a 2013 study into team sports in children and adolescents:

“Team sports improved self-esteem and social interaction, followed by fewer depressive symptoms. Sport may be associated with improved psychosocial health above and beyond improvements attributable to participation in physical activity. Specifically, team sport seems to be associated with improved health outcomes compared to individual activities, due to the social nature of the participation.”

The social nature of the team is at the core of its appeal. But the team is more than just a way to play a game with a group of like-minded people. In many ways, the real value is not in the game but in the group.

Team-building: A valuable skill

It’s literally in the name. With any team sport, the name of the game is developing a team that functions at its highest possible level. As anyone from the corporate world can tell you, team-building activities are seen as essential to effective workplace culture.

Competing with, for, and at times against your teammates builds strong bonds that you can lean on directly for support or that simply gives you an outlet to blow off some steam. Having this support network at your back can in turn build confidence and self-esteem—two of the most common benefits associated with team sports.

Examples of team sports

Obviously, personal preference and the intensity of exercise will vary widely by person and sport. With that said, here are a few of the more popular team sports and the number of calories they burn each hour on average, according to data from the University of Rochester Medical Center. As you can see, some sports–hello, handball–can offer unparalleled workouts.

– Baseball (350 calories/hour)

– Basketball (600 calories/hour)

– Bowling (216 calories/hour)

– Darts (86 calories/hour)

– Touch football (575 calories/hour)

– Frisbee golf (275 calories/hour)

– Handball (864 calories/hour)

– Hockey (576 calories/hour)

– Pickleball (600 calories/hour)

– Soccer (504 calories/hour)

– Softball (360 calories/hour)

– Tennis (575 calories/hour)

– Ultimate frisbee (650 calories/hour)

Wave Break Media/Shutterstock

There are also plenty of terrific leagues and team competitions for e-sports, board games, and “leisure sports” like darts and cornhole that can provide every bit of the intangible benefits of being part of a team, even if fitness isn’t the first priority.

How do you find the team sport that’s right for you? It’s a unique decision for everyone. and depends upon the motivation for getting started.

It may be a better, more accountable workout than you had when working solo. It may be a way to create a new social network that improves your confidence and self-esteem. It may be that you’ve always enjoyed a certain sport or game and are looking for other people with whom to compete.

All are valid and important considerations when selecting the right sport or league for you. You may have to try more than one, and you may ultimately choose to pursue more than one at a time.

Do your homework, and pay attention to what you want to accomplish, and you can’t go wrong. Team sports can pay off in ways far beyond athletics.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

Scott Harris
Scott Harris is a freelance writer based near Washington, DC, with more than a decade of experience covering health…
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