I was an athlete in high school, but when I went to college, my
participation in sports dramatically waned. Luckily for me, my
current home of Washington, D.C., has a burgeoning social sports
culture--all sorts of sports (from bocce to soccer to softball)
played at a variety of levels and often played in view of the
incredible monument-scape that we live around, or on the National
Mall itself. And so last year I weaseled my way onto a softball
team, and it's been great!
I am pretty excited to be playing softball again, but
before you take this post as a silly story about adults running
around like kids, let me assert that my enjoyment is more than just
nostalgic throwback. Participating in sports, at any age, is a
boost to not only your physical health, but also your mental and
emotional health (or as some will say, social health). In addition,
participating in social sports can increase your
health outcomes to a greater degree than simple physical activity
Many people are aware that exercise is a great way to improve
your mood and reduce stress, but being involved in team sports is
beneficial on top of the regular endorphin-induced stress relief.
According to the Livestrong Foundation,
"not only can increased social interaction reduce stress and
increase your mood, playing sports reduces social isolation and
allows you an opportunity to make new friends and forget your
worries while having fun with others."
That description may seem a little sterile, but it's absolutely
true! Although it can feel difficult to meet new people when you
aren't in school anymore, joining a team automatically gives you
something in common and serves as a jumping off point for making
Not only are social sports… well… social, but playing on a team
brings a certain sense of accomplishment that can actually
boost your self-image and self-esteem! There have even been
meta-analyses done that show adults who participate in team sports
better mental health and life satisfaction than those who
exercise at a gym or solo.
Have I convinced you yet? Now is a great time to take advantage
of your local social sporting leagues and to start reaping the
myriad benefits of playing team sports! My teams might still have
If you live in D.C. too you can check out http://dcsocialsports.com/ as
a starting point for picking teams to join.