All sports get you off the couch and work your body. However there are some that are particularly great for fitness, giving you your daily dose of cardio, getting your heart rate up, strengthening your heart muscles and body and keeping illnesses at bay. But you don’t have to be a national champion or a member of a professional team to be able to reap the health benefits of sports. Recreational sports, or sports which you play for fun or exercise rather than for money or rewards, are a great way to maintain fitness. No matter how old you are, you can sign up at a recreational center near you where you can join others in fun and healthy indoor or outdoor sports like the following.
Cycling is a great low impact exercise that people of all ages can enjoy, either solo or in a group. It gives the heart, lungs and blood vessels a great workout, and exercises all the major muscle groups as you pedal. It is an easy sport, not requiring special skills like other sports. Cycling is great for building stamina, aerobic fitness and strength. You can begin at a low intensity if you’re just starting out or healing from injury, and slowly build up to higher intensities. It’s an adventurous sport that most people enjoy, reducing chances of dropping out from boredom.
While the rowing machine has its place in the indoor gym, open water slide seat rowing is an adventurous sport that uses all the muscle groups, burns large amounts of calories, is low impact and keeps muscles safe from overstrain and injury and relieves stress. While outdoor rowing clubs are less common than other recreational sport clubs, if there is one near you, this is a great sport to keep healthy with.
Running is an excellent overall sport that has been recently revealed to have even more health benefits than expected. Running may be the reason marathon runners are significantly thinner than average, have lower heart rates and blood pressure, lower levels of bad cholesterol and few signs of heart disease. Sprinting for 20 to 30 minutes can set off a calorie burn that continues even after you’ve stopped running. You can run on your own or join a group of similar-minded people in the neighborhood.
Soccer is a fun sport that needs constant sprinting and running, as a result increasing aerobic capacity. It increases stamina, improves coordination and flexibility. Since you don’t need any equipment, beginners can also enjoy a good cardiovascular workout. It is a group sport that also provides emotional and mental benefits that come from social interactions.
Swimming is an accessible sport for any age or skill. It is great low impact and all-round exercise. It also has the benefit of allowing you to work your body with little strain to your joints, because of the buoyant force of the water. Stiff joints and muscles for the arthritic or overweight can be worked on comfortably in the swimming pool. Swimming increases strength, muscle tone, flexibility, heart health and burns calories at the rate of 60 calories for 10 minutes of breaststroke and 150 calories for 10 minutes of butterfly.
Staying fit during the winters when snow covers the ground is possible with cross-country skiing. Snowboarding and downhill skiing don’t provide the same levels of exercise. Cross-country skiing is safe and accessible, and it is easy on the joints. It increases your cardiovascular health, strength and engages several large muscle groups. Beginners can enjoy traditional cross country skiing, and those looking for more challenges can switch to skate skiing, which increases the complexity of movements and speed.
Forbes came out with a comparison of sports in 2003 that give the entire body a workout by consulting a number of athletes, physiologists and coaches. The verdict was that squash is the recreational sport that provides the greatest workout. Squash is a high intensity indoor game that can burn as much as 517 calories in a single 30 minute game. It works the heart, the lungs, boosts strength, burns fat, improves core strength and balance and improves flexibility. When you play the muscles of the upper and lower body work together, to work the heart up to 85 percent of its usual rate. You can’t play squash alone, so why not join your local squash league and get all the health benefits that this great sports offers.