If all your physical activity is a sport, you are playing it
Any physical activity is positive. Fighting a sedentary lifestyle is a matter of health, not aesthetics. Many people are satisfied when they feel that they have fulfilled walking 10,000 steps,even if it’s not enough , or going to that little game of football, basketball or paddle tennis with co-workers or friends of the youth. Practicing a sport has the enormous advantage of making exercise fun, even more so if it’s in company. But it is starting to be much more frequent than it should be to find people who are injured, more or less seriously, in that ‘Thursday party’ that your body accepted much better at twenty than at forty. It is necessary to question whether we are achieving a global improvement in our health by practicing a sport or if, with the passing of the years, the fun decreases and the risk increases. Any setback in the form of an injury can end in the almost total abandonment of any physical activity. Sooner than later.
Being self-critical, it is a reality that this game in which we feel for a few moments like a sports star is actually hurting us, because our physical condition is not ready to do a sprint, change direction or stretch to hit a difficult ball. From a health point of view, training focused on global improvement is healthier than practicing a specific sport.
Sport vs exercise, which is better?
It does not need much explanation, it is clear that the best is to combine physical exercise and sports practice, but let’s imagine what would happen in a hypothetical ‘versus’ taking as reference some indicators of performance and body composition such as strength, size, percentage of fat, flexibility and resistance. Suppose a 40-year-old man has imposed himself
a training plan whose objective is to pursue iron health, standing out in practically all the aforementioned indicators. This imaginary person lifts 120 kilos in squat90 kilos in bench press150 kilos in dead weight, runs 5 kilometers in twenty-four minutes and can boast of having fantastic flexibility and mobility. We could say that he has an enviable physical shape.
Suppose this same person gets into the typical ‘how about I push a little harder’ loop and decides to start competing in weightlifting, or to prepare to run a marathon. Do you think that taking that step into a sport would allow you to maintain such a balanced overall fitness? And if we add that this sport is only practiced on weekends or sporadically?
Dedicating yourself to a sport at a competitive level implies a maximum specialization that, except in very specific cases such as a decathlon, is associated with specific improvements to the detriment of others. The difference between professional and amateur sports is that the professional athlete plans and orders all his physical activity so that his body is prepared to respond to the demands of his discipline. Spending the week in front of the computer and ‘giving it all’ in a tennis match on Sunday will have little gain at the level
physical, except for the fact that we are aware that we need to do a little more exercise seeing how badly we do it. You shouldn’t take the radish by the leaves, of course training hard in a sport will always be better than staying in an armchair devouring junk food, but it’s a no-brainer that doesn’t justify it as the healthiest option.
The undoubted mental and physical benefit of practicing sport should not lead us to think that we have all our homework done as far as health is concerned. If the main reason you exercise is for your health, forget all that content that travels the Internet and challenges you to run a marathon, lift huge weights or imitate Rafa Nadal. Your training is no less important or less effective because you don’t break any records or win a game. The least appealing part of training to improve your health is that it will always be more boring than playing a sport with friends, but it is worth trying.