If you think back to your school days, your exercise regime probably consisted of playing a team sport a few times a week and never worrying about finding the time (or motivation) to go to the gym or paying £30 for a gym class. Well, what if this could still be a reality? Throughout the UK, the popularity of women’s team sports is well and truly on the rise. As an indication, following the success of England’s netball team, winners of the commonwealth games in 2018 and now ranked third in the world, according to ITV there are now more women playing netball than men playing rugby union on a typical weekend. Granted the coverage of women’s team sports is inadequate, but the benefit of getting involved in team sports is certainly not. We’re sharing a few reasons why team sports could be the future of fitness and showing you how to get involved.
Why get involved?
Health and wellbeing: Playing sport can help you to improve your cardiovascular fitness, lose weight and tone up, not to mention release endorphins to help you feel on cloud nine! The benefits of exercise are endless, and according to the London School of Economics, team sports have been shown to improve life satisfaction. This is perhaps down to the feeling of belonging and support network that comes with being part of a team. For example, after participating in a ‘Back to Netball’ session, an initiative by England Netball, 76% of participants claimed that playing netball helped them feel good about themselves.
Keeping it interesting: If you’re one of those people that despises the repetitive nature of spinning or running on a treadmill, team sports is the perfect way to shake up your workout regime. No two games of sport are the same, and this versatility keeps exercise exciting. Playing team sports is the perfect way to stay motivated as exercise becomes thrilling rather than a chore.
Stay social: The isolation of plugging in the headphones and heading to the gym is loved by some, but it’s not for everyone. Playing a team sport is an excellent way to combine socialising and exercise. Playing as part of a team and working towards a common goal is an excellent way to bond, meet new people who share common interests, and get your social fix after a long day in the office.
Save the pennies: Sick of paying an extortionate amount of gym classes or getting locked into a gym membership contract lasting a year? Then team sports may be the answer, as they are generally extremely affordable. As an example, ‘Back to Netball’ sessions cost just £3-4 a session and there is absolutely no long-term commitment necessary.
Raise the profile: There are nearly three million active female football players in England, more than 300 rugby clubs across England providing females with the opportunity to play the sport, and according to Sport England’s survey, more than 286,000 people who play netball at least twice a month, a rise of 61.3% since 2006. Despite this surge in popularity, recognition for women’s sport remains low. Female athletes are paid less, TV coverage heavily favours men’s sports and sexism in sport unfortunately pervades. By playing, talking about and promoting women’s sports, you can help to raise the profile, speed up the path to equality in sport and get fit simultaneously! It’s a Win-Win.
How to get involved?
Netball: In 2010, England Netball founded an initiative to introduce or re-introduce women to netball and since then, over 60,000 women have been involved! Run by passionate and enthusiastic coaches, the sessions take it back to basics and finish with a game to put the skills you’ve learnt to practice. For those of you who want to take it a little slower, they also have ‘walking netball’ sessions. Find a session here.
Football: If your interest lies in football, the FA offer a variety of different ways to get involved, ranging from skills sessions to 5-a-side. They have also introduced ‘soccercise’, a football-themed workout aimed to build skills, confidence and familiarity of exercising with a football. The inclusion of a football adds the challenge of core stability and coordination. Learn more about soccercise or find your nearest football session here.
Hockey: Field hockey is a popular sport at many schools, and Vitality x England Hockey has launched a Back to Hockey scheme to encourage people to fall back in love with hockey. Forget the fear of being told off by your coach, these sessions are designed to be friendly and fun. So, dust of your hockey stick, grab your gum shield and find your nearest session here.
Rugby: Whilst rugby may traditionally be considered a man’s game, this misperception is rapidly changing. Following an investment of £10 million, The Rugby Football Union aims to attract a further 100,000 girls and women to the game by 2021. The number of females enjoying contact rugby in England has increased by over 10,000 (England Rugby), so to be part of this revolution, locate your nearest session here.
Ready, set, PLAY!
words by Harriet Prior