We all know that we should be getting plenty of exercise to help us to stay (or get!) fit and healthy. This is often easier said than done, however. Sports and outdoor activities are not only good for your physical health, but they are also great for helping to keep you mentally healthy.
The chemicals that are released by the brain when you exercise, as well as just being outside in the fresh air, are great for fending off psychological problems such as anxiety and depression. So, we all agree that sports and outdoor activities are an excellent thing to do for your body and mind, but it is also important that you enjoy it – as if you enjoy it, you’ll stick to it.
Despite the challenges that we are facing with Coronavirus at the moment, there will be a time when we are free to go out and get involved with sociable sports again. And there are many sports and activities which you could try your hand at, to help you feel great, boost your confidence and maybe even help you to make some new friends…
There are a few good reasons to play tennis. Firstly, it can be a great way to bond as a couple or to spend some time with a friend. Tennis is a great body and brain workout, through the physical running and playing, as well as good for your cognitive functions and reflexes. You can also play tennis outdoors and indoors if you need to.
You will need a tennis racket, and some balls, and don’t overlook a good pair of trainers. According to tennis wear specialists, Wigmore, “The fit and comfort of footwear is a vital but often overlooked factor for ensuring optimal performance on the court”. This doesn’t just mean winning and losing, it can also mean steering clear of injury.
If you’re looking for a real mind and body workout, then yoga is for you. Originating from India, the practice of yoga involves linking your mind, body, and spirit for your own well-being. Physically it consists of a set of different stretches in poses that work on particular groups of muscles.
Often a yoga session might include meditation, breathing, and mindfulness, as well as relaxation, making you feel great afterwards.
Although yoga is a sacred and spiritual element of ancient Indian religions, there have been a number of different yoga ‘types’ evolve. These all vary slightly, and in the UK today, you will also find many classes which mainly focus on the physical element.
It is recommended that when you first start yoga, you go to a class with a teacher who can help you with different poses. From that, you can practice on your own – in fact this is a great option if you are self-isolating or social distancing. All you need is comfortable clothes and a yoga mat (although you can often borrow these at first).
Originating from the Africans who were enslaved in Brazil, capoeira is a mixture of martial art and dance. It involves non-contact ‘fighting’ along to music and singing and the capoeira movement in Brazil puts a strong emphasis on community and inclusion. Capoeira is a form of self-defence which requires a high level of control, power, balance, and also flair.
To be a great capoeira player you need to train a lot, but it is an easy and fun sport to pick up. All you need is comfortable clothes, although the capoeira ‘uniform’ is special white trousers and a belt similar to those in karate. If you practise capoeira you will no doubt tone your muscle, make lots of friends and maybe even become a better dancer!
The idea behind parkour is to get from one place to the next in the most interesting way that is possible. You would use running, jumping, vaulting, climbing, rolling – and anything else that you fancy to move over, around, under or through obstacles.
You can find parkour lessons, which would teach you some of the techniques that help you to flip and spring from one place to the next, such as balance, fitness, strength, agility, spatial awareness, coordination, control, and precision, whilst also placing great importance on creativity.
Parkour isn’t necessarily for the faint-hearted but in lessons, you will be taught how to do what look like daring and dangerous moves, safely. You can start with just comfortable clothes and trainers, but after a while, you might want to get special parkour shoes.
There are many sports and activities which you can do to help to boost your physical and mental health. This will be especially important once the situation with COVID-19 outbreak calms down. There will be many classes which you can go to and see if you like, but what is important to remember with sport, is that it doesn’t really matter what you do, it’s that you do it.
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Written by Ella Hendrix
Ella is a versatile freelance writer, currently covering topics on family wellbeing, ageing matters and activities for the elderly.