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the importance of playing sports as an adult

playing sports offers not only the obvious benefits of exercise and socialization, but also indirect positive consequences like greater personal development and lifestyle choices.

Many parents encourage their kids to play sports, not because they’re sports fanatics, but because they know that sports can play a positive role in child development. What most parents don’t know is that those benefits don’t expire with childhood — playing sports as an adult also provides a wealth of physical, mental and social benefits. 

Adulthood often brings with it an assortment of new stressors, including full-time jobs that necessitate a sedentary lifestyle, an aging body that's increasingly difficult to maintain and little time for recreation. At eseo, we think that’s a problem. Sports can play a critical role in overall well-being, which is why we facilitate sports connections and opportunities for adults. Keep reading to learn the importance of playing sports as an adult. 

Looking for a hobby to unwind with or an activity to keep you in shape? Philadelphia offers a wide variety of sports opportunities for adults. Visit eseo online to connect with other adult players or subscribe to our running newsletter and receive the mental edge to start more workouts. 

The Importance of Sports

When we conceptualize sports and their benefits, we think primarily about the physical energy they require and how that expenditure can help maintain physical health. We also think about how physical activity can reduce pain, increase endorphins and offer tremendous mental benefits. Recent research suggests that the benefits of playing sports don’t stop there. 

A 2019 study of Swedish athletes found that playing sports can actually offer secondary positive consequences, such as greater personal development and better lifestyle choices. People who play sports regularly are less likely to excessively consume alcohol and may even be at less risk for developing serious mental illness. 

Manage Stress

Sports and stress interact in complex ways. On one hand, playing sports can alleviate many of the conditions that cause stress; on the other hand, sports can produce higher stress levels in some athletes, especially youth athletes.

Research suggests that when a player is mismatched in a sport that requires skill above their ability level, they can become stressed. Similarly, playing sports can become stressful when parents put undue pressure on their child’s achievement. However, when competition-related stress is not present, playing sports can provide the following stress-relieving benefits:

  • Higher self-esteem
  • Strong social connections
  • Improved cognitive functioning (in learning, memory and creative thinking)
  • Mental and emotional resilience 
  • Reduction in musculoskeletal disorders associated with stress
  • Reduction in chronic disease associated with stress

Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Anyone who’s ever dealt with chronic stress and anxiety knows how exhausting it can be. Persistent worry can slowly degrade overall health and lead to serious mental and physical issues. Luckily, adults interested in reducing stress and anxiety may be able to do so by adopting a sport or physical fitness routine. Research suggests that playing sports may reduce anxiety by providing the following benefits: 

  • Stronger coping mechanisms
  • Elevated mood (compared to sedentary people)
  • Improved sleep
  • Decreased tension
  • Increased endorphin levels
  • Improved concentration

At the end of the day, physical health plays a huge role in mental health. A body that is physically active and well-rested is less likely to develop diseases and conditions that are known to increase stress and anxiety levels. 

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Improve Cardiovascular Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and a lack of physical activity is one of its primary — and preventable — risk factors. Even if a sedentary person is otherwise healthy and has no other risk factors, their lack of physical activity can lead to heart disease

Playing sports can have a huge impact on cardiovascular health. Regular physical activity reduces a person’s risk of developing heart disease in many ways, including the following: 

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Decreases bad cholesterol
  • Improves blood sugar
  • Decreases stress levels
  • Controls body weight
  • Improves sleep

Physical Strength

Physical strength isn’t just about being strong — it’s about maintaining healthy bones, joints and muscles to prevent disease. Experts say that aerobic exercise, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at moderate intensity levels can actually slow the loss of bone density that comes with age. That means that people who regularly play sports may be at a lower risk for developing osteoporosis, a bone disease common among older people. 

Adults who play sports and participate in regular physical fitness routines are also less likely than their sedentary peers to fall, break bones and develop arthritis. Additionally, adults who play sports may be less likely to experience nerve pain. 

The Benefits of Team Sports for Adults

The importance of playing sports as an adult can’t be overstated — it provides innumerable mental and physical health benefits. However, that’s not the only reason adults find themselves taking up sports again after years away from the game. 

Time Outdoors

Many team sports are played outside, especially in Philadelphia. Spending time in nature can provide a healing reprieve from the stressors of urban life, especially for city-dwellers living in the heart of Philadelphia. Research suggests that breathing fresh air can help clear your lungs and energize you, as well as improve mental clarity. Additionally, spending time outside can lower cortisol (the body’s primary stress hormone) and boost vitamin D levels.

Among the team sports that are played outside, Philadelphia has public venues for basketball, football, soccer, baseball, softball, kickball, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, tennis, golf and more. So grab a ball, call a friend and get out in one of the city’s beautiful parks and recreation centers. 

Meet New People

The pressures of adult life can leave some people with little time to meet new people and socialize. Without regular exercise, social skills can deteriorate like any other muscle. Luckily, outdoor team sports provide the perfect icebreaker for starting a conversation and beginning a friendship. If you’re interested in playing team sports to meet new people, let eseo help facilitate those connections. We specialize in connecting Philly sports players with the sports clubs, pickup games and league opportunities in town. 

Support Your Community

When you play team sports, you’re not just doing it for yourself — you’re doing it for, and with, your community. Sports connects people who wouldn’t otherwise interact, drawing players and fans to events in their community. You can support your community by assembling teams from players in your neighborhood and organizing games at your local rec center or park. Team sports strengthen social ties, promote respectful exchanges and foster compassion for the community you call home. 

eseo: Play On

The importance of playing sports as an adult can’t ever be fully expressed; there are likely undiscovered benefits we’re not even aware of yet. Beyond the physical and mental health benefits, the community-building and socialization, playing sports as an adult offers a truly priceless benefit: joy. And that’s something we could always use more of. 

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playing sports offers not only the obvious benefits of exercise and socialization, but also indirect positive consequences like greater personal development and lifestyle choices.