Low-Impact Sports You Can Practice Year-Round That Will Also Help With Your Mental Health
By: Jake Schneider
The importance of one’s overall health cannot be overstated. However, it’s not uncommon for many of us to focus on only one aspect of our health — either the physical or the mental.
Perhaps you’ve introduced a regular meditation habit into your routine but haven’t been able to work in exercise. Or, maybe you use all your free time to exercise but haven’t found time to just unwind and relax. Of course, both require our attention.
With this in mind, we’ve targeted five sports that can be used to improve both your mental and your physical health. These activities can be practiced at any time of the year, and they’re low-impact, so they’re great for everyone from beginners to trained athletes.
5 Low-Impact Sports for Improved Mental Health
Yoga is an ancient discipline that requires both physical technique and mental and spiritual focus. There are many types of yoga — some of which require great skill — but novices can certainly benefit as well. If you’re new to yoga, try taking a beginner’s class. Each pose, when practiced precisely, has the ability to bring about great clarity and calm.
Tai chi is an excellent activity for those who are just beginning to exercise after taking a long hiatus or those who have never exercised. It’s also a good practice for the elderly, kids, and those who are in recovery. This self-paced exercise requires deep concentration, the ability to focus and move slowly, and a close attentiveness to one’s own body.
Walking may seem like a mundane activity that doesn’t really count as a sport, but in fact, it’s the perfect way to burn calories and clear your head at the same time. Just taking a 15- or 20-minute walk has been shown to reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) and boost one’s mood. If you can’t get outside for a walk in the winter or inclement weather, consider investing in a treadmill.
If you struggle with aching joints or a painful back, swimming may be the perfect physical activity for you. Because the buoyancy of the water helps support your weight, you can get an excellent workout in without jolting your body. Likewise, the gentle lapping sounds and calming feeling of the water are excellent at relaxing the senses.
Believe it or not, even performing simple household tasks can give you a great low-impact workout. Plus, you’ll have the added bonus of improving the state of your home! Great options for calorie-burning chores include vacuuming, washing dishes, picking up clutter, and dusting. When weather permits, if you like to work outdoors, you can also get a great mood-boosting workout from mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, or raking.
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