The Hidden Benefits of Taking Up a New Sport

The recent British TV series The Jump has just finished, and even though most contestants had no experience competing in winter sports before, their level of achievement has been impressive. If you haven’t seen The Jump before, the show involves participants competing at different winter snow events including skeleton, bobsleigh, ski cross and ski jump. Despite steep learning curves, the contestants showed us that with some practice and determination, you can pick up new skills and sometimes excel at them. Admittedly contestants most likely had an intensive training programme over the time they were competing. They also had good teaching and instruction from some of the best in their sports. However, there are some lessons we can all learn from what they achieved.

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Mind and Body

Picking up new skills at any age is a challenge, but there are so many benefits to both mind and body. We are creatures of habit on the whole and new skills are not often picked up, particularly as we age. Learning new motor patterns awakens deep areas of the brain not otherwise utilised, and it also sets new skill patterns for use in the future. Some skills are transferable; the balance and steadiness needed to manoeuvre a downhill ski course will enable accurate muscle actions for future challenging activities. However, it doesn’t have to be this extreme. Picking up a new skill such as Tai Chi or Yoga can teach your body new movement patterns useful to daily life, making your body more efficient at other activities.

Muscles, Movements and Falls

New physical hobbies develop muscle. Whether it’s the more immediate changes seen with strength training, or the gentle tonal changes developed with Pilates, challenging muscle activity produces increased muscle tone and bulk. This has the obvious benefits of making movements in the future easier but it also protects us of we knock ourselves and fall. Jump contestant Mike Tindall may not have come off so well, had he not had significant muscle bulk to protect him on a heavy jump fall!

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Increased Brain Activity

The other advantage of picking up new skills is increased brain activity, which is needed to learn new motor movements, increases general brain activity and therefore circulation of nutrients and oxygen to the brain tissues is optimised. We know this can be beneficial for maintaining healthy brain activity, and reduces the risk of diseases such as dementia. The benefits to mood are also well documented. Picking up new challenges gets those happy hormones flowing!

Have you recently started a new sport or hobby? Sports physiotherapy helps you to recover from sports injuries as well as enable you to reach your peak performance in your chosen sports. To discuss what sports physiotherapy could do for you, contact us today on 020 7884 0374 or email info@physiocomestoyou.com.