Game On! How Team Sports Can Rock Your Summer

Fitness Thursday, June 6, 2013 Written by

Missing those carefree childhood evenings of triumphant grass stains and the exchange of celebratory high fives? Good news. The recent emergence of adult sports leagues proves that sometimes life still can be all fun and games. Not only do team sports promote better physical health; participation can improve one’s mental well-being, too. Among the shared characteristics of those living in the world’s Blue Zones—the five locales where people live the longest—are regular physical activity and the nurturing of strong social networks. So lace up those shoes, and witness how local summer sports leagues encourage staying fit and reconnecting with your playful side.

Keeping Active

If the influx of popular leagues like Granny Basketball are any indication, older athletes across the map are rediscovering youthfulness together on courts, fields and blacktops. Nowadays, it’s a no-brainer that frequent physical activity increases one’s likelihood of enjoying a healthy and happy life by preventing disease, decreasing anxiety, raising self-esteem and even enhancing brain wellness. Research has shown that, as one ages, activities like exercise and socializing can stave off dementia and other age-related health issues.

Perhaps the most significant takeaways from team sports, though, translate to life after the final whistle has blown. Adults also need reminders on the importance of discipline, teamwork, good sportsmanship, resiliency and cultivating community. Reports confirm the potential harm in isolation and the positive benefits that stem from fostering one’s sense of belonging. And, surprise: there might be monetary gains from team time as well. A study conducted by the Centre for Economic Policy Research concluded that sports-playing German adults enjoyed a boost in income as compared to less active peers.

Getting On The Roster

When choosing a team in the Pacific Northwest, the options are plentiful. For Seattle sports, the city’s Parks and Recreation department organizes teams that tackle sports like basketball, dodgeball, softball, kickball and a newer racquet sport called pickleball—a combination of badminton, tennis and table tennis. (Here are some similar lists for Spokane and Bend.) The Seattle webpage lists dozens of other local organizations like the Greater Seattle Soccer League, Puget Sound Basketball and the Sandbox Sports volleyball league. Folks also get physical thanks to the Oregon Adult Soccer Association and, in Bend, at Cascade Indoor Sports.

A popular option in Seattle and Portland sports, Underdog Sports Leagues support co-ed team sports of “everyday players” ages twenty-one and over. Underdog organizes more traditional games, as well as unique (and arguably less physical) options like bocce, mini-golf, bowling and even cornhole. The league often hosts social events like happy hours, holiday bashes and kickball and flag football tournaments (the Red Rubber Showdown and Needle Bowl, respectively).

With most adult sports teams, the emphasis falls on the fun. The website for Seattle’s Comeback Sports League boasts stats like “60 individual teams made up of complete strangers” and “8,000 two-for-one pitchers of beer and counting.” Summer team sports for this league include soccer, softball and kickball (check out their teams in Portland, too). The tagline for WAKA, the World Adult Kickball Association? “Best Parties. Best Games. Best Friends.” Now we’ll “cheers” to that!