Friday, August 31, 2012

Play your way to a healthier you

If you don't love sports, there might be something wrong with you.

Sports are a part of our lives on a regular basis, whether we realize it or not. We go to sporting events, whether it be a major league baseball game or our kids youth hockey game. We make Sundays in the fall a big deal as we get together and cheer for our favorite teams. We drive by stadiums, fields, and sporting good stores all the time. You'd be hard pressed to flip through the TV nowadays and not see some kind of sports event or sports talk happening--they're everywhere you look! But maybe you should add a different way of looking at them...

By playing them! That's right, you don't have to be a high school student athlete or a pro in order to play a sport you love. If you live in or near a big city in your state, you probably have access to a sports league right in your neighborhood.

Here in Portland we have a lot of sports "leagues" to choose from
(I say "leagues" because often times the organization is more than a league, it's a social club of sorts). One that I've played with for several years now is called Portsports. They have a plethora of sports to choose from--everything from kickball to volleyball to walleyball to bowling to ultimate Frisbee and more. My favorite is kickball, although more exercise would come from playing a sport like ultimate, but I use kickball as an active recovery day during my summer training months. Plus booting that big red ball is a ton of fun--maybe even more fun than it was back on the playground in elementary school!

One of my clients plays in a local beer-league softball league, with his team being made up entirely of 60-somethings. A lot of the guys on the team have chronic back, hip, and knee problems, but that doesn't stop them from playing a sport they enjoy with other "old guys" (as my client affectionately refers to them). Plus he's outside, moving around, and losing additional weight in the process. What's not to love here, other than the fact that I am scared to death that he'll blow out a knee at some point? "Just be careful,"I tell the guy who is old enough to be my dad.

Another place to look might be your local parks and rec leagues. My girlfriend played in both a soccer league and a basketball league last winter and absolutely loved it. The only downside to these types of leagues are that the number or participants may not always be consistent, so be sure to check the time and day of games. Her soccer league met on Sundays in late fall and early winter--conflicting with the  NFL schedule--so she never really knew who would show up on what week. But her mid-week basketball games were a a ton of fun and she looks forward to doing it again this winter. So be sure to check around to see what leagues are in your area and what kind of sports they offer as one may not offer the same as the next.

So as cooler weather approaches, remember this: You don't always have to drive to the gym, park the car, go inside, change, walk to the treadmill, run for however long while sweating all over the place, hop off, walk back to the locker room, towel off or shower, walk to your parked car, then drive home. Mix it up and join a local sports league! Soon you'll find yourself getting all kinds of exercise while reliving your glory days or learning a new sport altogether. You'll have fun, meet new people, and get some exercise. Doesn't that sound much better than pounding away on the ole dreadmill all winter long?

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