Finally realize playing fantasy football isn’t exactly getting you the exercise you need? Thinking maybe it’s time you got off the couch, and actually got in the game? Good. Because some physical activity will help keep you above ground longer, and the physiological boost is beneficial on many levels. Whatever you reason for strapping on the pads, there are a lot of reasons why joining a sports league could be one of the best things you ever do. Here are a few:
Benefits of Joining a Sports League
A Change in Your Exercise Routine
Working out at the gym is all well and good, but it can get a little boring. You can change it up by moving things outside. But if you’re still doing the same exercises, it’s not going to make that much of a difference. Team sports offer a different kind of challenge. Even if you play the same sport every week, it’s never the same game. Plus, you get to challenge your body in ways that weights and fitness classes don’t. Also, your regular exercise routine can make you better at the sport of your choice, and vice versa.
Improve Your Brain Function
Every new sport has a learning curve and the time you spend learning will not only improve your body, it will improve your mind as well. In fact, scientists have discovered that learning new skills can actually improve something called neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to change and adapt. Even polishing old skills, like taking up a sport that you haven’t played in a long time, can improve neuroplasticity.
Team sports allow you to meet new people and forge lasting relationships. Not just friendships but potential business partners and colleagues. Not only can you form friendships with members of your own team, but of the opposing teams.
Improved Romantic Prospects
Speaking of relationships… friendships and business aren’t the only type of relationships that get forged on the field. While dating shouldn’t be your only reason for joining a league, the fact that you will be exposed to a variety of new people can certainly improve your dating prospects. Plus, you already know she’s a sports fan.
Choosing a Sport
You can find leagues for almost any sport or activity that you want. Not only are there leagues devoted to the traditional team sports, like hockey or baseball, but there are also teams for what might normally be considered solitary sports, like running and cycling. The sky’s the limit and the sport you choose is entirely up to you.
For example, if you already have experience with a team sport from high school or college, you might want to start on a team in a league for that sport. You already have some skill there, and the chances of public embarrassment drop dramatically.
Another thing to consider is whether or not you can afford the equipment you’ll need. Some leagues might have their own equipment, but others might require you to provide your own. Sports like running can be fairly inexpensive because you don’t need a lot of gear—a good pair of running shoes and shorts. Go for hockey, and you’re in for a helmet, gloves, sticks, skates and pads. Sure you can always find good deals at stores that sell second-hand equipment or online retailers like Goalie Monkey, just make be sure you can handle the cost of purchasing your gear—and you’re gonna stick with it a while— before you sign up and gear up.
Finding a League
If you belong to a gym, look for ads for leagues posted on the bulletin boards. For example, in some Cincinnati, Ohio gyms, Team in Training distributes promotional materials encouraging people to join. Your local city recreation commission might also have information on area teams, and you can always do a web search to see if there’s a league for the sport of your choice. For example, a search of “Hockey Leagues Cincinnati,” returns results for CAHL: Cincinnati Adult Ice Hockey Leagues. Facebook is also a good resource for sports leagues, and you might find friends already playing.
TIP: If you’re just starting out, you might want to consider a league that takes people from all levels of play. Even if you have played the sport before it could take a while for you to get up to speed. Join a league that’s above your level, you might never get the opportunity to play, and some leagues have guys who take the competition seriously. Sometimes too seriously. On the other hand, joining a league that’s below your level won’t challenge you, and you’ll drop from boredom. A little excitement is what got you off the couch in the first place.
[Image: Joe Loong via Flickr]