Friday, 17 November 2017

The benefits of team sport for men’s wellbeing

There’s a reason why men often hang up their football or rugby boots when they approach middle age – the toll of competitive sports on the body can be significant and often men feel the need to step aside in favour of their younger, more agile counterparts.

However, men the length and breadth of the UK – and further afield – are realising they needn’t be so hasty in giving up team sports altogether – it’s more a case of taking down the intensity a notch or two! Peter Reddy, a researcher and reader in psychology at Aston University has been studying the benefits of walking football on players aged 50 and over.

It seems that the latest sports craze – walking football –  is having a beneficial impact not just on men’s physical health, but their mental well-being too. Men who have played football all their lives reported higher levels of flow (a feeling of satisfaction) and lower levels of stress when playing.

There are a number of reasons why retrieving your footy boots is definitely a good idea – even if your pace and core strength isn’t what it once was. The benefits of team sports extend far beyond the exercise you’re getting. They include:

  • Building confidence. When playing a team sport, we are able to gain a greater self-awareness, and appreciate what it takes to work well within a group. Being part of an effective team helps develop our self-confidence and this translates into our working and personal lives too.
  • Developing relationships. The friendships we build within our teams – with our team mates and coaching staff - helps us create stronger relationships outside too. We learn how to give and take instruction, how to collaborate and how to work together towards a common goal. Team sports are a great way of expanding our social circle and nurturing positive friendships that extend beyond our chosen team sport. 
  • Better transferable skills. When we play sport, what we’re actually doing – as well as exercising – is following a precise set of rules and fulfilling a specific role. Through team sports, we learn the importance of time management and discipline, as well as appreciating what we have to do to win for the team - these skills can only help us in other areas of our lives too. 
  • Putting winning into perspective. Sometimes as adults we focus too much on achievement. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be the best we can be, but team sports help us be less selfish and enable us to focus on shared successes and failures. Losing as a team can still pack a punch, but somehow dealing with disappointment is less painful when shared with others. Team sports help us to enjoy winning and endure losing better than we could do alone.

In summary, team sports – whatever our age – can help us not only maintain our physical well-being but also develop more mental resilience, which can only be good news. So, if you feel like you’re living life on a treadmill or are doing the minimum needed to keep going, maybe it’s time to dig out your kit and get back to a team sport?

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