If you, like me, were gripped by England’s heart racing performance at the Cricket World Cup, or found yourself shouting at the TV during the nail-biting Netball World Cup, then perhaps now is the time to harness some of that passion and feed it into your own exercise routine?
Team and competitive sports are not only fantastic (and sometimes heart-breaking) to watch, they’re also hugely enjoyable to take part in.
Not only will they get your heart thumping, the competitive, varied and social elements mean you’re more likely to stick with them, rather than getting bored three sessions in.
Competitive and team sports are good for the whole family. Not only will they keep you all active and give you a full body work out, they’ll teach the kids to share (and harness) their passion, learn about losing (which is just as important as, if not more so, than winning) – and the importance of team work.
And it doesn’t matter how fit you are, or how long it’s been since you were last in your gym shorts, there are so many dedicated sports clubs out there that you’re bound to find something to suit you all (even if that’s a different thing for each member of the family!).
So, whether you’re becoming a little tired of your gym routine or classes, or you are yet to find the joy in moving more, perhaps now is the time to give competitive sports a go?
Back to school
Many of us played hockey, football and netball at school, but how many of us kept it up?
All these sports are a fantastic way to get active. Chasing around will get your heart pumping, strengthen your circulation and boost your lung capacity. The quick turns, throws and kicks will strengthen your bones and muscles.
Kids will also benefit from increased hand/eye coordination, helping them with their balance as they grow.
The good news is, sports clubs still exist! And they are crying out for players to join them on the field. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how long you’ve been out of action, there are teams that suit every level and ability.
You don’t have to take it too seriously, but introducing a structure will give you more regularity and ensure you enjoy the ongoing benefits of the sport. You may also find that introducing a little competition will encourage you to train and work harder next time!
Many clubs also deliver walking netball and walking football, aimed at players who are a little less agile or mobile. They’re not as strenuous, but are a great way to get back into moving and are still lots of fun.
If joining a club isn’t your thing, then why not set up your own competition? Inviting friends and family to join you is a healthy way to bring your favourite people together.
Moving more will release endorphins, helping you feel great and sleep better. By playing together, you’ll also strengthen family bonds and friendship.
There are plenty of options: football, rounders, tennis, cricket, netball… or even a game you’ve made up yourselves!
You don’t need a fancy kit, just clothes and shoes you’ll be comfortable running around in. Remember to pack the sun cream and plenty of water if it’s a sunny day!
It can sometimes be hard to get the kids to join in something that’s family orientated and isn’t screen-based, especially if they’re teenagers. Why not make a trophy or offer a prize money can’t buy – such as an extra hour of screen time or the choice of what to have for tea? You may find these added benefits are just what’s needed to get your whole ‘team’ motivated.
Racquet sports like tennis and badminton are a great competitive sport that provide excellent health benefits too.
They’re a great cardiovascular exercise with quick sprints, jumps and turns that will all get your heart rate up, oxygen pumping and lungs working harder.
Unlike some sports, you don’t need to find a whole team to get a game in. In fact, racquet sports are great for couples, or parents playing with their kids – as you usually need two to four players.
There are also plenty of clubs for you to join which are great if you don’t have someone else to play with. Clubs also offer the benefit of coaching and being able to join in with socials. Clubs provide a great way to make new friends, no matter what age you are!
Joining in with other people is also a great way for kids to learn how to socialise and will help build their confidence around new people.
Some clubs allow you to pay on a session by session basis, but some will charge a membership fee. Many larger parks have courts which are available to hire cheaply – or are even free – so do some research and make the most of your local facilities.
The good news is there’s a sport out there for everyone. So, whether you were glued to the telly for Wimbledon, or you have planned your spot to view this year’s Tour De France, make the most of your passion and turn it into something positive.