Staying active has never been as essential as it is today. Taking care of our health is imperative, so finding sports to fit our lifestyles, especially after college, shouldn’t have to be a challenge.
Benefits of Staying Active
The list of benefits for staying active is long, but the primary advantages include:
- Strengthening your bones and muscles
- Reducing the risk of developing health problems such as heart disease and stroke
- Weight loss and weight management
- Increasing the chances of living longer
When people stay physically active, it benefits not only the body, but also the mind. Exercise produces changes in parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety. Exercise has been shown to improve one’s mood and decrease feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress.
There are many lifestyle sports to choose from depending on what you enjoy doing, such as walking, hiking, cycling, pilates, yoga, swimming, or martial arts.
Health Benefits of Walking
Walking can be done anywhere, indoors or outdoors, and nothing is needed except a good pair of shoes. The health benefits of walking are lengthy, but a few include:
- Assists in protecting the joints, including the knees and hip
- Improves mood
- Strengthens leg muscles
- Helps lower blood sugar levels
Walking also improves circulation, which increases glucose and oxygen levels in the brain resulting in better concentration and improved cognitive health.
Walking is an exercise that requires no added equipment unless you want to include hand or ankle weights to burn calories further.
Health Benefits of Hiking
Hiking is very similar to walking, except it is more strenuous and will burn calories faster than walking. Hiking allows you to get in touch with nature, and hiking uphill is one of the best exercises to obtain overall health benefits for the mind and body. Other benefits include:
- Reduces risk of heart disease
- Lowers blood pressure
- Increases bone density
- Decreases tension and anxiety
Hiking does require proper hiking gear, including durable hiking boots, a backpack, and plenty of water.
If the hike is all-day, make sure to bring proper nutrition such as nuts, dried fruit, and power bars. You will also want to have sun protection, and if the hike goes past sundown, make sure to bring illumination in the form of a headlamp for lighting. However, cell phones usually have built-in flashlights that can be used in case the headlamp dies.
Planning and familiarizing yourself with the trail is imperative so you do not get lost. Knowing in advance the intensity rating is also essential because you do not want to attempt a grueling hike when you are a beginner.
Health Benefits of Cycling
The great thing about cycling is that it can be done indoors and outside. Regardless of choice, the health benefits are phenomenal.
- Increase in cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and flexibility
- Decrease of body fat and stress levels
- Helps prevent or manage diseases such as diabetes
- Reduces anxiety and depression
Cycling, whether indoors or outside, is a low-impact form of exercise that is ideal, especially if you have osteoarthritis because it puts little to no stress on the joints.
Health Benefits of Pilates
When it comes to pilates and fitness, many people think it is the same thing as yoga, but this is not the case. Pilates is a form of exercise that involves the mind and body, and it is designed to stretch and strengthen while improving posture.
Besides being a low-impact form of exercise, meaning there are minimal stressors on the joints, there are three significant benefits of Pilates that will naturally boost your mood. In addition to these, this total body workout will also help:
- Increase muscle strength and tone
- Enhance muscle control
- Build bone density
- Improve posture and increases the mind/body connection
Pilates is an excellent form of exercise, regardless of age and because it helps build bone density, it is especially beneficial for those over 50 years of age. Pilates is also instrumental in developing coordination through movement and breath, which keeps the mind sharp as we age.
Health Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is another mind-body connector that incorporates breathing, meditation, and poses to improve relaxation and decrease stress.
There are various types of yoga practices, and they all bring a long list of health benefits.
- Improved flexibility
- Increased strength
- More defined muscle tone
- Healthier joints
Practicing yoga involves moving and stretching in new ways, which brings a more substantial range of motion. Yoga requires poses that are held utilizing your entire body weight that will build muscular strength without having to use heavy weights or gym equipment.
Health Benefits of Swimming
Swimming is the fourth most popular activity in the United States. This lifestyle sport works the entire body without impacting your bones or joints, which makes this an excellent form of exercise at any age. There are many benefits, including:
- An increased heart rate with zero stress on the body
- Built up strength and endurance
- A safe exercise option for people with injuries, arthritis, or other health conditions
- Improved sleep quality and mood
Swimming may also be beneficial to people who have multiple sclerosis (MS). The water makes the limbs feel lighter, which helps to give added support during exercise. The water also provides a mild form of resistance. In one study, swimming provided a marked reduction in pain from MS.
Learning any form of martial arts will help strengthen the body and mind. There are many different forms, but there is one in particular that combines self-defense and health all in one. Krav maga and fitness go hand-in-hand when it comes to a complete body workout.
Health Benefits of Krav Maga
Krav maga incorporates different forms of martial arts, including jujitsu, karate, judo, and boxing. This martial art form also uses weapons and props to learn how to defend yourself against single or multiple opponents.
When you learn krav maga, you will also become more knowledgeable about using your body’s reflexes for self-defense and how to target your attacker’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
This high-intensity sport will burn calories and build muscle tone. Krav maga is an aerobic sport that consists of kicks, punches, and other vigorous moves.
Some of the primary benefits of learning krav maga include:
- Boosted strength and stamina
- Sharpened mental fitness
- Improved confidence
- Reduced stress
The practice of krav maga is intense but highly effective, especially when it comes to learning self-defense. You will learn how to defend yourself in any given situation, and your body and mind will get an incredible workout.
Krav maga will not only improve your physical health, but you will walk away with more self-control, focus, and discipline.
Depending on the sport that is best suited for you, there are apparel needs that come into play, and there are benefits of wearing the right workout gear.
Finding the right soft activewear is vital to allow your workouts to be comfortable. Choosing activewear for cycling is much different than it is for pilates, martial arts, or swimming.
Whatever lifestyle sport you choose to stay active post-college, make sure to do warm-up and cool-down stretches to prevent potential injuries, and incorporate a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Participating in lifestyle sports to stay active and healthy will help the body and mind bring a total balance of health and wellness to your life.