They provide camaraderie, exercise and a great way to stay active
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
If you would like to improve your fitness, you could walk. It’s weightbearing to build bone and improve balance.
Walking involves major muscle groups and costs nothing. If you walk outdoors, it provides fresh air and sunshine. You can even wear weighted vests and carry hand weights to challenge yourself.
But joining an adult sports team offers benefits beyond these.
“The thing we most need is contact and connection as human beings,” said Grace Klein, Ph.D., in private practice in Rochester. “That is the most important thing for mental health: being able to share common interests and relationships and spend time together. It helps people connect with each other and to not be isolated.”
Isolation is a known risk factor for depression and cognitive decline. Team sports provide the benefit of the enrichment of meeting new people and building relationships.
“People recognize each other if someone makes a good move,” Klein said. “Everyone can celebrate and acknowledge each other.”
These feel-good moments make exercise more enjoyable that slogging it out alone on a treadmill with little immediate reward.
Although exercising solo at the gym or on the hiking trail fulfills many aspects of fitness, group fitness through joining a team can help keep you accountable. You know that your teammates are counting on you to show up. It’s tougher to skip a session if you feel like you’re letting others down. You play hard to score and succeed. It’s also motivating to practice outside of scheduled times to improve your game.
“Team sports are a valuable piece to any older adult’s overall wellness routine,” Mike Avery, associate executive director of Eastside Family YMCA. “Sports like pickleball require your body to move and react in three dimensions with agility and coordination. All can be difficult to incorporate in your weight training routine yet are critical for balance and injury prevention as we age. They also offer a fun opportunity to socialize and share your competitive spirit.”
If you have played team sports before, reviving your interest can be mentally stimulating as you recall old skills and sports memories. But learning new skills can also engage your mind, which is associated with maintaining cognition later in life.
Although playing a team sport can help you get in better shape, consider any health considerations such as previous injuries that a sport may aggravate. Check with your doctor about any health concerns before you sign up for a sport. You may need to participate in something less intense before joining the sports team of your choice.
To find area team sport available, check out your municipality’s offerings and teams that play at local sports complexes.
Organizations offering team sports include:
• In Batavia https://bataviaparks.org/athletics
• Canandaigua YMCA https://www.ymca.org/what-we-do/healthy-living/sports-recreation
• In Geneseo www.geneseoparkdistrict.org/athletics-leagues
• Geneva Adult Sports https://cityofgenevany.com/262/Adult-Sports 315-828-6550
• Penfield Recreation www.penfield.org/programs_and_activities/sport_leagues/adult.php
• Rochester Go FLingo Sport & Social www.goflingo.com
• Rochester Sports Garden Inc. www.rocsportsgarden.com
• In Spencerport www.leagueathletics.com/