There are millions of people who love sport but don’t ever move off the sofa to participate. And when the cameras scan the crowds at a football stadium, you don’t often get a shining example of fitness from the majority of those watching the game.
So how do you make the move from watching sport to participating in it? It’s not always easy to get started, especially if it’s a long time since you played any sport and you feel that you aren’t that fit.
However, that’s no reason to give up before you’ve even started and limit your participation in sport to watching the professionals play and dabbling in a little Premier League and Serie A betting when you see some decent odds on the games you’re watching. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having a keen interest in the big games but it shouldn’t be the only way that you enjoy sport. Instead, perhaps watching the effect that Juventus’ star player, Paulo Dybala, has had on his team since the beginning of this Serie A season could be enough to inspire you to take up a more active involvement in sport.
— Goal (@goal_intl) January 19, 2016
How to get started
The first thing you need to do when getting into sport is to think about what you’d enjoy playing. Are you interested in playing a team sport such as hockey, football or basketball? There are loads of local clubs where beginners (or returners to a sport) can join in. Five-a-side football is a great example. Go along and have a look to begin with – you don’t have to commit yourself straight away. The great advantage of playing a team sport is that it not only provides you with regular exercise, but it also opens up a whole new social circle through the practices and matches.
Team sports can really have great benefits for your health. For example, if you take up football, you will increase your aerobic capacity as you’ll be running around the pitch for 90 minutes every game. This means you’ll be able to go from walking to sprinting and recover quickly each time you switch. A player runs about five miles in one game and, with constant jogging, running and walking, the heart rate is kept up. This means that you’re getting excellent cardiovascular exercise. Benefits of this type of exercise include lowering blood pressure and burning excess calories. Other team sports offer similar types of exercise that can radically improve your stamina and overall health.
If you don’t like the idea of doing a team sport, there are plenty of other options open to you. Some people enjoy the challenge of learning a new skill through tuition. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to play tennis, but don’t know how. Signing up for a course of lessons works in two ways. Firstly, it gives you the benefit of professional tuition and, secondly, the cost also increases your chances of staying committed and seeing the course through. It’s harder to simply give up if you’ve paid to do something. Golf is another sport in which it is beneficial to have lessons. A golf pro will teach you the basics and then you’ll have the confidence to play with friends and colleagues. Golf is a great sport for networking as there’s also a big social side to the game. It’s also beneficial for your health as you will cover about four miles on an 18-hole course. Regular walking, although not high-intensity exercise, is a great way to burn off fat. If you keep the pace quick, you’ll also get cardiovascular benefits. Carrying your own clubs turns the round of golf into a weight-bearing exercise, which is good for both muscles and bones.
For those people looking purely to improve their fitness but who aren’t necessarily looking to socialise at the same time, there are lots of solo sports to try out. The easiest of all is jogging or running. All you need to get started is a decent pair of trainers. Similarly, swimming is a great all-round exercise that can see you progressively improve by raising your distance target over a period of weeks and months. As well as offering a cardiovascular workout, swimming will help you lose excess pounds while concentrating on your stroke and technique is also a great way to clear your head and de-stress. Swimming is also a great activity to fit in on the way to or from work. You just need to throw your kit in the car.
Whatever sport you take up, it’s a step in the right direction away from being a couch potato towards being someone who actually participates in sport.