William D. Jones, MD, practices occupational and preventive medicine in Oklahoma City, OK. In his free time, William D. Jones, MD, of OK enjoys playing slow-pitch softball for both a men’s league and a co-ed league.
Just as they do for children, team sports offer adults physical, social, and mental benefits. Team sports challenge the athlete cognitively, as he or she must be aware of what is going on within the game at all times and often needs to make split-second decisions based on others’ actions during play. Because these decisions often involve quick communication with teammates, the process involves even more focus and is even more mentally challenging.
Responsibility to one’s team also encourages a player to become more disciplined and motivated to play at a high level. Accountability to others not only gives the athlete a goal to work toward, but also helps to keep him or her working past challenges. The interest in contributing toward that goal helps to keep the athlete, as well as the group, focused, an invaluable skill both on and off the field.
Meanwhile, the constantly changing activity level of team play means that the athlete gets a varied workout. Unlike individual exercise, in which the athlete typically works at the same level for extended periods of time before taking a break, the team athlete will run, jump, stop, throw, and catch in quick succession. This works different muscle groups and different levels while offering more challenges to the cardiovascular system.