This New Year, why not take up a new sport?

“Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.” – Michael Jordan

With the new year already upon us, it is time to start putting those new year resolutions into practice. At this time of the year, people generally start to think about new habits they would like to form, habits that would improve their health and wellbeing. If you are one of those people, why not look at taking up a sport?

A study by the British Journal of Sport’s Medicine proves conclusively that playing a sport can add years to your lifespan – as well as to your health span, meaning that fit people stay “physically younger” and are more capable during those years. The study tracked 80,306 adults (average age of 52) in England and Scotland between 1994 and 2008, following each participant for an average of 9 years, examining which activities were most associated with a reduced risk of death. Unsurprisingly, people who played a sport were less likely to die than those who didn’t.

While the intention is not to paint a dire picture, the interesting part of the study revolves around which sports had the greatest effect on lifespan. People who regularly played racket sports like tennis and squash were 47% less likely to die than those who did not exercise at all. Swimmers were 28% less likely to die, people who did aerobics (including general exercise, fitness, and gymnastic activities) 27% and cyclists 15%. High-contact sports like boxing were found to have a negative impact on lifespan. This is very interesting information because it could have a great impact on which sports people choose to play and which ones they might choose to avoid.

If you live in any of India’s big cities, you shouldn’t have trouble finding specialized training academies for a wide variety of sports. These academies offer classes at affordable rates and are open late, so you can attend a night class even if you have a late meeting. Many of these academies offer ‘adult only’ sessions so you never have to worry about ending up with a 6-year old as your training partner!

But remember, habits take time to form. Once you’ve taken that first step, remember to be patient and stick with the chosen sport. It is crucial to attend class at least 3 times a week. If you can do this, then in 3 to 4 months you should be sufficiently equipped in the basics of the sport to continue playing it for life. Your chosen sport will then provide you with almost all the exercise you need to stay active, fit and healthy. Playing a sport regularly also has the added benefit of meeting new people.

So, this new year, do yourself a favour and take up a sport!