Health Benefits for Sports

by Martin Hughes

About Martin Hughes

Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.

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Overview

Participating in sports is an effective and often enjoyable way of developing optimal health, especially those activities that enhance your cardiovascular endurance and capacity, strengthen your muscles and improve or maintain your range of motion. Participating in regular bouts of physical activity or playing sports is one of the best forms of preventive medicine, reducing your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke and increasing mental well-being. The American Heart Association says you can gain two hours of additional life expectancy for every one hour of physical exercise you get.

Enhanced Aerobic Fitness

Endurance-building activities -- such as running, bicycling and swimming -- can reduce your blood pressure, help you quit smoking, lower your risk of diabetes, manage your weight, improve your work capacity and enhance your quality of life. For a sustainable exercise plan, engage in enjoyable aerobic-related sports or activities that you can fit into your schedule. According to the American Heart Association, three 10-minute intervals are as good as one 30-minute session.

Improved Muscular Strength & Endurance

Resistance-type exercises, such as weightlifting, wrestling and cross fit significantly challenge your muscular system, resulting in improved strength and endurance. Further benefits are increased lean muscle mass, enhanced joint flexibility and range of motion, a stronger heart, improved bone density and an increased ability to control or regulate your body weight. Engaging in sports that improve your muscular strength and endurance also helps strengthen your tendons and ligaments, controls your blood pressure and enhances your balance, agility and coordination. As your muscular system develops, you'll notice favorable changes occurring in your body's shape and general appearance, which may improve your confidence and self-esteem.

Improved Joint Flexibility and Range of Motion

Many sports -- including gymnastics, dance and figure skating -- improve your flexibility and range of motion while simultaneously strengthening joint-stabilizing muscles. Stabilization of your joints improves your posture, which can lower your risk of musculoskeletal pain, uneven joint wearing, arthritis and muscle-tension headaches. While pleasure may be your primary reason for engaging in sports, many health benefits accompany physical activity. Most sports promote improved joint flexibility and range of motion to some degree, although participation in non-competitive activities -- such as yoga, Pilates or gyrotonics -- also increase your ease of movement.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.