How to Boost Your Health Through Team Sports

Three Parts:Boosting Your Physical Health with SportsImproving Mental and Emotional HealthStarting and Playing a Team Sport

Many studies have shown that the health benefits of team sports span far beyond physical fitness. In fact, playing a team sport on a regular basis can help improve your mood, reduce stress and depression, improve sleep habits and even improved learning ability.[1] The physical nature of sports, plus the interaction with others and the need to memorize certain moves or plays are some of the many reasons sports are so great for your health. Consider searching for and finding a local sports team to join. That way, you can not only stay in shape and improve your health, but also have a lot of fun.

Part 1
Boosting Your Physical Health with Sports

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    Meet the recommended aerobic activity guidelines. The CDC recommends that healthy adults aim for a certain amount of physical activity each week to maintain or even improve health. Playing a sport is a great and fun way to do this.
    • Most health professionals recommend that you do at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week.[2] Aim for this amount between your practices and games.
    • This goal is easily met when you play a sport. For example, one soccer game may be an hour long. That's not even including the practices.
    • In addition, many sports require you to have a higher level of aerobic fitness. During practices or games, you'll most likely be alternating between high and moderate intensity activity which is great for your cardiovascular system.[3]
    • Tally up the total time you know you'll spend each week playing games, participating in events and going to practice. If it meets the 150 minute guideline, you don't have to be active outside of your team sport.
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    Incorporate the recommended amount of strength training. You may not think that playing a sport could help you meet the CDC's guidelines for strength training. However, many sports require you not only to be aerobically fit, but also be require strength training as well.
    • Participating in team sports and their practices can help you meet the guidelines of having 1-2 days of total body strength training.[4] Make sure between practices that you participate in strength training exercises for at least 20 minutes per session.
    • Sports that require bursts of running - like soccer, football or basketball will require strong leg muscles. In addition, sports like basketball or baseball require a good amount of upper body strength.
    • Practices may involve doing lunges, squats or burpees which can help strengthen and tone those muscles.
    • Again, practices should involve some strength training focusing on your back, shoulders and arm muscles.
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    Use sports to maintain a healthy weight. Like many forms of physical activity, a team sport can help you maintain a healthier weight and even help you lose weight. Use this fun and social form of activity to help you achieve any weight loss goals as well.[5]
    • Be consistent with all the practices, games or events plus do additional training on your own. This will help you stick to a more routine exercise schedule and meet those recommended weekly guidelines. Overtime, this is a great support for weight loss.[6]
    • If you're trying to lose weight, set a realistic goal. Even when participating in a lot of physical activity, you it's still recommended to aim for a 1-2 pound weight loss per week.[7]
    • In addition, see if the entire team would be interested in following a healthier diet together. Together everyone will be active and eating well as a unit which can make following a diet or particular lifestyle much easier.[8]
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    Ditch unhealthy lifestyle habits. Whether you smoke or drink larger quantities of alcohol, these unhealthy lifestyle behaviors can have a negative effect on your body and athletic performance. [9]
    • To stick to a routine practice schedule and to pull your weight on the team, you need to make sure that your lifestyle keeps your body healthy.
    • To start, quit smoking if you do. You need to be able to breath easily and work your cardiovascular system and lungs at a high level. Give up smoking so that you can successfully improve your aerobic fitness levels.
    • Limit your alcohol consumption as well. Men shouldn't drink more than 2 beverages a day and women should limit their intake to 1 drink daily.[10]
    • Remember that playing sports are only one way to boost your physical health. You'll enjoy their benefits more if you extend your healthy habits in sports to other areas of your life
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    Eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet. Just as smoking or alcohol consumption can work against your sports performance, so can an unhealthy diet. Change what you eat and how you eat to support your athletic performance.[11]
    • Poor diet choices may lead to poor performance. You may be more fatigued or not be able to keep up during practice.
    • Skip foods like: fried foods, fast foods, processed foods, sweets, sugary beverages and alcohol.
    • Instead, focus on eating lean protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. A well balanced and nutrient dense diet will help fuel you through tough practices and help your body recover.
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    Sleep at least 7-9 hours each night. Studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between sleep quality and exercise.[12] Playing a team sport can help you get in the activity you need to get a solid night's rest.
    • When you exercise for at least 150 minutes per week (the recommended amount), you're able to fall asleep quicker, have a deeper and more restful sleep and sleep longer.
    • A team sport is a great way to meet those activity guidelines and get you tired out enough to get a great night's rest.
    • It's important to aim for at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night. This is needed for daily functioning, but also to make sure you're at your best for practices and events.[13]
    • To get this amount, try going to bed earlier or waking up later if you can.

Part 2
Improving Mental and Emotional Health

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    Track your performance and progress to help improve your self-esteem. Some studies have shown that regular participation in a team sport can help boost your self-esteem and confidence both on and off the field.[14]
    • If you have self-esteem or confidence issues, use your team sport to help strengthen those areas. Regular practice on the field or court can help you build strengthen, endurance and a mastery of certain skills. This can help boost your confidence in your own abilities.
    • Consider keeping a journal to track you abilities when you first start a sport and every month as you play.
    • You may also want to track how your body has changed as you get stronger, tone muscles or even lose weight. You can track your weight or take measurements of your waist or hips.
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    Hang out with your teammates outside of games and practices. Exercise is a common method to help you relax, de-stress and unwind from a long day. But hanging out with your teammates is another great way to relax and de-stress.[15]
    • Use time off the field with your teammates as a source of support. Your fellow mates can be a support group and be a good place for you to vent and release stress.
    • Consider going out for a drink or a meal after a practice or a game. You can chat and relax among friends. It's a great way to bond off the field.
    • Schedule an event to see a movie together as a team. You could all grab dinner before or after and hang out while watching a good film.
    • Celebrate special occasions together as well. If it's your birthday or another team member's 1 year anniversary on the team, celebrate together.
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    Stay consistent with your practice schedule. When you exercise, you'll often notice your stress levels decrease; however, when we stop exercising, it's often easy not to notice how our stress begins to mount again. In the case of exercise, seeing is believing; even at times when motivating yourself to stay active is a pain, you'll find that doing exercise often overrides this feeling by alleviating stress once again.
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    Improve social ties. Playing a team sport is great way to not only meet new people, but spend quality time with old friends. Use your time during practice and games to get to know each other and bond more closely.
    • Consider asking your friends to join a sports team with you or make up your own team among a group of your friends.
    • Schedule in weekly practices and events that will work for everyone's schedule. That way, that social time will be a bit easier to fit into a busy lifestyle.
    • If you're interested in making new friends, joining a team sport is a great idea. You'll meet a whole new group of people and have the opportunity to really get to know one another.

Part 3
Starting and Playing a Team Sport

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    Research local sports teams. If you're not currently playing a team sport, but would like to start, look for local teams in your area. Talk to friends, family or do a little digging online to see what's available.
    • To start, consider what type of sport you'd like to play. Have you played something in the past? Did you play a sport in high school or college?
    • Ask your co-workers if there's an office league or ask friends if they know of any local sports teams.
    • Another good place to look is online. Look at your local YMCA, churches or fitness centers. These places may all have a local team.
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    Start your own team. If you cannot find a local team sport or can't find something you'd like to play, consider starting your own team sport. This can be a fun activity to start.
    • Just because you can't find an established team, doesn't mean that there aren't any options.
    • Ask co-workers, especially if you work in a bigger office, if they'd like to start up a team.
    • Send out an email and see what sports people would like to try and if they'd be willing to join together to form a team.
    • You can also try getting your friends or family members together. It's a great way to socialize and bond as well as get in some physical activity.
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    Try less competitive sports. If you're thinking you can't join a team sport because you're not very athletic or not very good at sports, don't worry. There are options for everyone with or without previous experience.
    • Don't think you need to necessarily be very good at a sport. There are very casual, "no-skills" required sports that are great for everyone of all skill levels.
    • For example, sports like dodgeball, kickball or casual flag football are just for fun.
    • Also, remember that with time and regular practice, you will get better at whatever team sport you try. Just keep trying and working on your skills.
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    Get the right equipment. After you've decided on a team sport, you need to make sure that you prepare yourself and get the right equipment. This will help you stay safe and have fun.
    • Many sports require some sort of athletic shoe. You may need cleats for soccer or high tops for basketball. Ask the team lead or other players what type of shoes you need.
    • Also consider getting a gym towel and water bottle. You'll definitely be working up a sweat and need to cool down with some water and wipe your brow.
    • Ask the team whether or not there is specialty clothing. Most times, general athletic clothing will work (gym shorts and a t-shirt). However you may need to purchase a team jersey for events and games.


  • Engaging in team sports is a great way to improve many aspects of your health including physical, mental, emotional and social health.
  • If you're not good at a particular sport, thats OK. Try finding something you enjoy and work on improving your skills.
  • Playing sports is a great way to meet your activity goals for the week while still having a lot of fun.

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Categories: Personal Fitness