Sports and Exercise

Sports and Exerciserunners

In addition to offering pleasure and camaraderie, sports are a great way to stay in shape. While adults increasingly associate (exercise) with punishing hours in a gym, many children naturally “keep fit” through spontaneous play. Whether you’re an adult looking to jump-start your own wellness, the parent of school-age children, or a young athlete, getting to know some of the most popular sports can help you embark on a path to improved health and satisfaction. Many offer comparable or superior health benefits to time on a treadmill.

Football

American football involves running, throwing, kicking, and jumping, making it a demanding workout. Involving both aerobic and anaerobic (exercise), the sport requires players to develop their sense of balance and coordination, speed, agility, and strength. In essence, the game is based on moving a ball to one end of the field. A football team also includes many different, highly specialized positions, meaning that a range of skill sets are required. As a result, most children, teens, and adults can find an aspect of the game that takes into account their abilities and fitness goals.

Basketball

Much like football, basketball can be boiled down to the effort to get a ball from one end of the court to the other. However, in basketball, it is necessary to shoot the ball into an elevated basket. Plus, various rules restrict players’ abilities to move with the ball, requiring that they “dribble” or pass. Since basketball is a fast-paced game that involves running, throwing, catching, and jumping, players have the opportunity for intense cardiovascular (exercise).

Volleyball

Originally designed as a less taxing alternative to basketball, volleyball is far from a mild game. The sport requires players to return a ball over a net, without launching it off court or allowing it to fall to the ground. Hitting the ball hard enough and fast enough to score points requires considerable strength and endurance. Whether played indoors or on a beach, players must learn to move dexterously, working together with their teammates within a relatively small space.

Soccer

Known simply as “football” in many parts of the world, soccer is gaining popularity in the United States, as well, especially among teens and children. Players work together to get the soccer ball inside the goal of the opposing team, requiring running, kicking, and some throwing. The sport engages many different muscles, making it a full-body workout. Athletes run the length of the field at a relatively quick pace, with play moving rapidly from one side of the field to the other.

Tennis

While the sport is most often associated with gentility and high manners, tennis is also an intensely demanding game, increasingly attracting players of all ages and backgrounds. The sport essentially requires that you return the ball over a net, using a racket. While the principles are simple, the game can involve highly complex strategy. As a workout, it can burn 400 to 600 calories per hour, comparable to weightlifting or a spinning class.

Hockey

Both ice hockey and field hockey are especially popular among children and teens in colder climate areas. Increasingly, this game’s energetic pace and vigorous play are gaining attention nationwide. A high-intensity, full-body activity, hockey requires endurance, strength, agility, balance, and coordination. Athletes also have to work together, passing the puck quickly to score goals.

Gymnastics

Popular among children as well as teens and adults, gymnastics can be one of the most demanding forms of exercise. However, it is also possible for even young children to enjoy. Among the various health benefits, gymnastics improves strength, flexibility, and coordination. The range of specific gymnastics events also means that younger athletes never get bored.

Track & Field

While many confuse “track and field” with running, the sport actually includes several individual events, primarily focused on running, jumping, and throwing. The sport’s name comes from the track and field area where the events take place. The exercise benefits of each event vary widely, though all of them offer intensive cardiovascular workouts. Various events give different focus to developing strength, endurance, agility, speed, and determination.