Five Sports That Can Help Improve Your Physical and Mental Health

Getting or keeping active is a key part of ensuring your continued physical and mental wellbeing. Any doctor or GP will tell you that exercise is good for you. So, what sports are well worth trying if you want to improve your health? Here are some of the most popular.

Athletics

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Track and field isn’t just about running, jumping, or throwing things; different disciplines involve honing technique, hand-eye co-ordination, speed, and endurance.

Whether you’re sprinting 60m indoors or running a marathon on the roads and through the parks of a town like Northampton, faster times mean you’re improving. With field events, your key metric is height or distance.

Don’t be fooled into thinking athletics is an individual pastime either. Training together to get that runner’s high can also involve social aspects and team-building skills if you form a relay squad. 

Boxing

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The noble art teaches discipline, accuracy, and the ability to pace yourself. Boxing gyms are everywhere – you don’t have to sign up for a match, but can enjoy sparring with a partner or work at close quarters with a punchbag.

This is a great way to release stress and pent-up feelings of aggression or frustration in a safe way. Even boxers who have reached the pinnacle of pro sport like Anthony Joshua have highlighted the importance of training, with his recent comments about better quality sparring.

It may have been an area of his regime that AJ neglected. Top athletes are always learning ways of improving and you can do too, while Joshua is odds-on favourite in the boxing betting on his upcoming world title rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr. It shows that AJ believes even he’s come some way since the initial match, in which he was de-throned in the seventh round by the Mexican-American.

Cricket

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There’s never been a better time to take up cricket in the UK. England are global champions in the 50 over formats following a thrilling World Cup triumph over New Zealand on home soil in 2019.

Cricket can test your patience, discipline, and mental endurance as well as accuracy. Spatial awareness is important for batting players, so that they don’t play shots that get out. Being a bowler can be even more physically demanding as you have a certain number of overs and deliveries to make in the course of a session or match.

Bowling line and length requires depth perception. If you are a spin bowler, then it’s all about your skill rather than the speed at which you can make a delivery. Whether you’re at the crease defending the wicket or attacking it, there’s plenty of running to be done that keeps you in great shape.

Football

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A great British pastime. If you’re a latecomer to the beautiful game, then chances are you won’t be getting a professional contract worth millions at a Premier League club.

That’s not really the point of playing football, though. Running around for 90 minutes is great cardio. Even more so than with athletics and boxing, there’s an emphasis on the team dynamic with the traditional 11, six, and five-a-side games amongst your options.

Whether you join a pub team that plays in a Sunday league or just have a kickabout on the AstroTurf with your mates, grassroots football can help you keep active and healthy.

Rugby

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Ever seen one of those Gilbert tackle bags and felt the urge to hurtle into one at full speed? If you do, then rugby could be the sport for you. Two codes – union and league – are played in the UK with different rules, points value and number of players to a side. Along with the obvious benefits of building comradery and physical strength, rugby tests your tactical positioning skills, as well as your physical and mental stamina.

As with boxing, which is split into weight categories, the great thing about rugby is there’s a role for people of all shapes and sizes. Scrums are formed by forwards and 80 minutes of physical activity per match tests your strength, speed, stamina and team skills.

So, with plenty of options beyond this list, will you put yourself out there in the coming year? With the new year looming and, inevitably, the new years’ resolutions, will getting fit be on your new decade to-do list?