If you play sports as an adult, you’ll reap all sorts of benefits. Remember, sports aren’t just for kids. Here are 10 reasons to play sports as a grown-up.
Reason to Play Sports #1: Healthier Heart
Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting to play sports as an adult, your heart will thank you.
“We know that playing sports and aerobic exercise has a big impact on cardiovascular health,” says Ankit Shah, MD, Director of Sports & Performance Cardiology Program at MedStar Health in Columbia, Maryland. He’s also the team cardiologist of the Baltimore Orioles and USA Swimming.
“Being a lifelong athlete and living a healthy lifestyle–no smoking, clean diet, no drugs–definitely is best for longevity and overall health,” Shah continues. “When going from being sedentary to exercising the recommended amount, there is a reduction in mortality. Also, you can see improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and improved insulin sensitivity. All of this plays a role in decreasing incident heart attacks.
If you’re upping your activity level from sitting on a couch to giving basketball a go, Dr. Shah suggests a visit to your doctor to ensure your heart is ready.
“Depending on risk factors, [new athletes] may benefit from seeing an internist/cardiologist prior to initiating vigorous exercise.”
Reason to Play Sports #2: Stronger Bones
Playing sports as an adolescent can contribute to your bone health as an adult, particularly if you participated in a sport like soccer or gymnastics. A recent study shows athletes in these sports had the highest bone density and lowest fat mass.1 Another study shows bone health benefits can extend from adolescence through adulthood.
Basically, if you played high-impact sports as a kid, you were able to bank some favorable bone mineral density (BMD) into your adult bones. This is called bone loading. Continuing to play sports that contribute to bone loading as an adult increases bone size and strength. This can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and hip fractures in your golden years.2
The best types of sports for bone strengthening? Ones that include things like jumping, multi-directional running, and explosive movements. While you’re at it, add strength training with heavy weights to your routine for even better bone health.
Reason to Play Sports #3: Meet Weekly Exercise Goals (in a fun way)
According to Dr. Shah, the current recommendation for weekly exercise is 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. He says, “All adults can benefit from doing exercise, and while doing something is better than nothing, ideally get to the 150 or 75-minute mark weekly or 2-3 times the recommended weekly amount for more benefit.”
If you’re doing a form of exercise you don’t enjoy, that time can pass excruciatingly slowly.
But find a sport you love, and that time can pass in the blink of an eye. One soccer game is 90 minutes. A basketball game is 48 minutes. An average pickleball match is 20 minutes. You get the idea. Try out different sports until you find one or two you actually enjoy, and you’ll meet your weekly exercise goals without even thinking about it.
Visit our directory to find a sport near you if you don’t have one already.
Reason to Play Sports #4: Better Mental Health
Playing sports as an adult can get–and keep–your body in prime physical shape. But besides physical benefits, there are mental bonuses as well.
Sports can reduce the amount of stress and psychological distress you feel in daily life.3 In a day and age where we are constantly plugged in, sports let you unplug for a moment, which can feel great for your mind.
In addition, participating in group sports is an excellent way to keep depression at bay, according to a 2021 study.4 The social aspect of playing sports is one that shouldn’t be overlooked, which is why you’ll read about it as the next benefit.
If you haven’t already, check out our blog post specifically on this topic to get even more specifics on sports and mental health.
Reason to Play Sports #5: A Wider Social Net
Playing sports as an adult helps you expand your friend circle. Despite the evolution of social media and always being connected–online at least–friendships are on the decline.
If you participate in a sport as an adult, you can experience camaraderie you might not find elsewhere. Sports definitely bond people, and you’ll find the opportunity to create friendships across a diverse group.
And don’t think you have to be a skilled athlete to participate in a sport. Many leagues are specifically built around being social and typically have many beginner options.
Check out regional and local social leagues like Waco TX Sports & Social Club, Volo Sports, CLUBWAKA, and Heyday Athletic. They offer beginner sports like kickball and dodgeball to more competitive sports like soccer, basketball, and flag football.
Social leagues usually incorporate events like happy hours where you can get to know players outside the game as well.
Reason to Play Sports #6: Sleep Better
People are having more trouble sleeping than ever. Sleeping issues affect an astounding 50 to 70 million Americans. Some people deal with these issues occasionally, while others experience consistent issues with falling or staying asleep.
While many turns to medication as an antidote, rigorous physical activity like sports provide a natural solution.
In fact, a recent study followed tracked participants’ sleep after six months of regular aerobic exercise. The results? Significant increases sleep quality, sleep duration, and a decrease in the amount of time it took to fall asleep. Plus, there were fewer times waking up throughout the night.5
Reason to Play Sports #7: Maintain a Leaner Body
The more you move, the more calories you burn. It’s simple math, really. These days, many of us are chained to a desk all day. Not exactly a high-calorie burning activity.
While not all sports are equal when it comes to burning calories, movement of any kind is a good way to battle the bulge. Keep in mind, if you’re playing outfield in a softball game and never even make your way around the bases and then go out and chug a few IPA’s after the game, this is counterintuitive to staying lean!
But if you battle it out on the basketball court or even play an intense game of ping pong, the calorie burn adds up.
While looking good isn’t the end-all-be-all of playing sports, keeping fit and lean is a nice reward for your efforts.
Reason to Play Sports #8: Improve Coordination
The older we get, the more our coordination declines. Keeping up sports as an adult is a great way to maintain great hand-eye coordination, as a Harvard Health Publishing article suggests.
Things like racquet sports, baseball/softball, basketball, and even swimming are excellent. They force the brain to make the hand-eye connection.
For improving foot-eye coordination, sports like soccer, figure skating, track, and basketball (again) are great options.
FYI–the Harvard article also mentions juggling. Unfortunately, we don’t have any juggling leagues in our directory. Sorry to all the aspiring jugglers.
Developing cat-like reflexes through sports can help in everyday life as well. Think of driving a car and avoiding an object in the road, or pissing someone off and ducking to avoid an object they throw at you (kidding–or maybe not).
Reason to Play Sports #9: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
While not all sports require being part of a team, there is still some sense of teamwork, even in individual sports. After all, if you didn’t have an opponent to compete against in tennis or swimming, or a triathlon, it wouldn’t be the same.
If you do play a team sport, you have to learn to work together toward a common goal, like skating down the hockey rink and passing the puck to your teammates in hopes of eventually sinking it to the back of the net of your opponent.
You may not even like all your teammates, but it doesn’t mean you can’t coexist within the context of a game with the common goal of trying to win. This transfers to real life as well, particularly in work situations.
If you compete in an individual sport either against an opponent to score the most points or against an opponent for the best time, you still learn lessons like showing up on time and learning to win (and lose) with grace.
You can parlay so many traits you learn in sports to help you throughout your life. Just ask a Fortune 500 CEO–95% of them played sports.
Reason to Play Sports #10: It’s Fun!
Statistics abound as to why you should continue to play sports into adulthood. But when you get down to basics, the most important reason is for fun. When you find a sport you love to play, there is pure joy to be had.
But all the other bennies sure do help!
No matter where you are in your sports journey—beginning, middle, or end–Adults Play Sports has something for you. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter for more posts like this, along with exclusive offers only for subscribers.
- Agostinete RR, Fernandes RA, Narciso PH, Maillane-Vanegas S, Werneck AO, Vlachopoulos D. Categorizing 10 Sports According to Bone and Soft Tissue Profiles in Adolescents. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2020 Dec;52(12):2673-2681. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002420. PMID: 32735110.↩︎
- Carter MI, Hinton PS. Physical activity and bone health. Mo Med. 2014 Jan-Feb;111(1):59-64. PMID: 24645301; PMCID: PMC6179512.↩︎
- Asztalos, Melinda & Wijndaele, Katrien & Bourdeaudhuij, Ilse & Philippaerts, Renaat & Matton, Lynn & Duvigneaud, Nathalie & Thomis, Martine & Duquet, William & Lefevre, Johan & Cardon, Greet. (2008). Specific associations between types of physical activity and components of mental health. Journal of science and medicine in sport / Sports Medicine Australia. 12. 468-74. 10.1016/j.jsams.2008.06.009.↩︎
- Abd El-Kader SM, Al-Jiffri OH. Aerobic exercise affects sleep, psychological wellbeing and immune system parameters among subjects with chronic primary insomnia. Afr Health Sci. 2020 Dec;20(4):1761-1769. doi: 10.4314/ahs.v20i4.29. PMID: 34394237; PMCID: PMC8351861.↩︎