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5 Best Sports for a Healthier Body and Mind

Staying healthy is just as important for the mind as for the body. However, despite the widespread exercise facilities and wealth of nutritional advice available online, sedentary lifestyles and poor diets are still causing significant damage across America.

According to the CDC, over one-third of American adults (almost 79 million) are classed as obese, with 39.5 percent of people aged 40—59 suffering from severe weight problems. Mental health is also a problematic area across the States, with National Institute of Mental Health research showing that almost 10 million American adults suffer from serious anxiety or mood disorders.

Suicide rates have shown no sign of reduction for around 20 years, with white males aged 60 and over at twice as much risk of taking their own lives. In people aged between 15 and 34, suicide was the second most common cause of death.

Action needs to be taken to reduce waistlines, promote greater mental-health care, and ultimately save lives. Playing sports can help you to lose weight, build muscle, make friends, and learn a new discipline. Yet what of the mental benefits?

At a deeper level, exercise releases endorphins (the ‘feel-good’ chemicals in your brain), which help to combat stress and anxiety. Taking up a sport suited to your physical condition and lifestyle is an effective way to feel better overall, provided you take the proper precautions. You should consult your doctor before undertaking any exercise, no matter how tame the sport in question may appear.

For anyone considering a sport to elevate their mood while reducing their waistline, here are five top choices.

Basketball: Courting Success

With its fast pace, basketball involves jumping, running, and quick movements. As a result, someone weighing around 165 pounds will burn approximately 600 calories in an hour. For anyone weighing in at around 250 pounds, that same hour can burn as many as 900 calories.

Basketball demands great concentration to keep the ball out of opponents’ hands, block shots, and spot teammates across the court. Unlike games with a slower pace, in basketball players must make snap-decisions again and again. This intense focus is ideal for helping to distract you from other concerns, keep you in the moment, and battle stress.

5 Best Sports for a Healthier Body and Mind - Basketball

Swimming: Flexibility and Focus

Swimming is widely recommended as one of the best forms of exercise, for people of all ages.

Not only is swimming a powerful cardiovascular workout, it is also a low-impact option for people in need of a gentler sport. While swimming can be enjoyed solo, joining a team or partaking in synchronized swimming is a popular way to get more from it.

Swimming boosts flexibility, strength, endurance, balance, and rehabilitates muscles which are overworked or injured. It also requires a strong focus when swimming as part of a team or engaging in synchronized routines, encouraging greater concentration.

5 Best Sports for a Healthier Body and Mind - Swimming

Competitive Running: Good for the Body, Good for the Mind

While solo jogging or running is one of the more common ways to lose weight, running as part of a team is an effective way to improve your body and mind.

One key area in which running helps maintain good health? It keeps the blood flowing through your intestinal tract, leading to a healthier digestive process. Colorectal cancer is a major problem in the US today, with 2016’s death toll expected to reach 49,190 by the end of the year.

Along with a healthy diet, running or jogging can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. You should also combine this with regular visits to your doctor and endoscopies. When used, endoscopes allow physicians to explore your colon and identify any potential problems, such as polyps or unusual growths.

Depending on the model used, endoscopes can also perform biopsies and minor surgical procedures. If you are concerned about your colon health, talk to your doctor about an endoscopy and the benefits of running or jogging.

Consider undertaking a marathon or half-marathon, going cross-country, joining a relay team, or trying competitive running at your local circuit.

Tennis: A Healthy Serving

Tennis is one of the most beloved sports, demanding concentration, discipline, and fast reactions.

As players have to change direction multiple times within several seconds, running back and forth along a fairly small space, tennis is physically tough. Players will find tennis enhances their metabolic performance, muscle tone, reaction times, and lowers the resting heart rate. Blood pressure can also drop over time.

While tennis has a strong competitive element, playing for fun can help to relax you and alleviate stress. Most health clubs feature tennis courts, and equipment is widely available.

5 Best Sports for a Healthier Body and Mind - Tennis

Cycling: Exercise Via the Scenic Route

Cycling is renowned as one of the best sports for the body and mind.

Research shows that cycling enhances production of such feel-good chemicals as dopamine and serotonin. As well as these, cycling also releases cannabinoids and endorphins. This sport also helps to balance adrenaline and cortisol, reducing stress and anxiety in the long run.

Cycling also allows you to enjoy the great outdoors, in a more relaxed manner than running. Riding along country lanes and other scenic routes is an effective way to escape urban environments and take in some fresh air.

On a physical level, cycling is low-impact, boosts strength and stamina, and engages the major muscle groups. Experts recommend 30 – 60 minutes of cycling. Given the high-intensity of some cycling, particularly uphill routes, you should consult your doctor before embarking on a new regimen.

Keeping the body and mind occupied, working together towards a specific goal, is fun, exciting, and rewarding. Along with a balanced diet, taking up a sport can help to ensure a happier, healthier lifestyle.

Kyle McManus is a freelance writer based in the UK. This article was prepared on behalf of Pro Scope Systems.