Watching the Olympics during lockdown does two things. It makes you aware that maybe, you need to have a more active lifestyle, and it reveals the vast number of sports choices available.

While the all-time favourites, hockey and badminton resonated with everyone, Neeraj Chopra and Mirabai Chanu or Lovlina Borgohain made us think about signing up our children for javelin classes or encouraging our daughters to take up weightlifting or boxing.

If India’s best Olympic performance of all time, along with the weight gain due to work from home aren’t enough to convince you why everyone needs to play a sport, here’s some more food for thought. Munch on these while you contemplate a sport to burn off the calories!

Sports makes fitness fun

While some motivated fitness enthusiasts did their 10000 steps a day pacing their balconies despite lockdowns, others need more to motivate them. A sport can help you connect with like-minded people, while skipping the small talk. Getting straight to the game makes it fun; you get to know more people and create a group of friends that give you that 6.00 a.m. call to nudge you to the court or field or walking track. Running groups are popular in the city, as well as cycling troupes that plan early morning expeditions. Of course, there’s always a group of cricket enthusiasts at shouting distance, or a badminton court around the corner.

A game to teach the game of life

Work from home isn’t so bad, but school from home certainly has its downfalls. The pent up energy, the lack of time with friends and absence of alternate authority figures, are a recipe for tantrums and parent-child conflicts. A sport, even in non-lockdown days, helps children to burn off excess energy, grow strong and more importantly learn sporting behaviours like persistence, practice, good humour, losing with grace, winning with grace, dealing with pain, and discipline. For younger children, sports like skating, gymnastics and martial arts develop muscle coordination and build confidence in new skills, and for teens and young adults, sports like basketball, football, tennis or tennis are a structured and safe way to bond.

Mental and emotional balance through physical workouts

There’s been a lot of recent awareness about mental wellness and one of the easiest things to do to discipline your mind is to work it out by working out. While yoga is the go to sport for mental and physical wellness, any sport works just as well. It’s well known that exercise releases ‘happy hormones’ – endorphins which relieve pain and stress, dopamine and serotonin which regulate and balance moods. Medical experts advise a regular routine of aerobic activity, running, swimming, or HIIT (high intensity interval training), even a bit of Bollywood or martial arts, at least 30 minutes five days a week.

Re-charge your energy levels

When that tiredness never seems to leave, despite that you got 8 hours of sleep, and your fitness tracker shows a high quality sleep cycle, the answer is not more rest, but more exercise. Any physical activity, whether it’s an individual sport or a team sport gets the heart rate up, the blood flowing and raises your energy levels. Regular cardio vascular exercise strengthens the heart and takes away your tiredness by giving you more stamina. Nature sports like trekking, boating or fishing, help you re-connect and give you the benefits of physical activity.

Making sport a part of your life

With the Olympics still fresh in our minds, it’s time to act on making sport a part of your life. The day to make a decision and act on your sports resolution is 29 August, National Sports Day in India, the birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand. If you still need inspiration, here’s a fun fact - Major Dhyan Chand led the Indian hockey team to a hat trick victory, three Olympics in a row!

There’s no downside to playing a sport, in fact there are only good outcomes. Who wouldn’t want better health, more energy, friendship and belonging, mental wellness and emotional balance? A sport can bring all these, and the best part is – there are thousands of sports to choose from. When you are bored of one sport, feel like you have mastered the skill, or need a new friend circle, just pick another sport!