The health benefits of physical activity are undeniable. What may not always be top of mind is that regular physical activity can have a positive effect on your psychosocial health, too.

Psychosocial health includes the emotional, mental, social, and spiritual dimensions of health. Taking part in regular physical activity, has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety and stress, as well as improve cognitive function and quality of life.

Guess what? Certain types of physical activity have been linked with greater psychosocial health benefits.

A recent systematic review (a study that summarizes all of the available evidence on a topic) found that adults who took part in sport showed improved well-being, reduced levels of stress, and improved social functioning, compared to people who were inactive or active in others ways, like walking or active transportation.

The authors argued that belonging to a sports club or group, regardless of whether it’s team (e.g. soccer, softball, etc.) or individual sport (e.g. tennis, golf), can lead to improved health benefits because of the social nature of sports – feeling an increased sense of community, bonding, and self-esteem. But the authors emphasized that people should choose to do the type of physical activity they enjoy and suits their skills.. Motivation-based research supports this, as people are more likely to meet the physical activity guidelines if they do activities they enjoy, rather than activities they feel they ought to do.

Activity loves company.

If you enjoyed sports when you were young, chances are you still will. I played a lot of sports in my youth, and I miss it! In fact, writing this blog post motivated me to search out sports leagues in my own community. Find your local YMCA here.

If you weren’t into sports when you were young, you may feel differently now, as there is something satisfying about learning a new skill. If you’ve always wanted to take up a sport like golf, tennis, or ultimate frisbee, look for a beginner league. Individual sports can be social when you join a club and see the same people each week. You’ll also meet new people and may find some great exercise buddies.

With the beautiful summer weather and longer days, why not look into joining a sports league or club for a different type of physical activity? You might see improvements in your motivation and well-being. Below are various team and individual sports typically offered at local community centers and sports clubs. Many are non-competitive and require no experience to take part. If you don’t have a team organized, you can often sign up as an individual and be paired up with others.

Team Sports Individual Sports
Bike polo Axe throwing
Slo-pitch softball Badminton
Dragon boat Golf
Beach or grass volleyball Tennis
Dodgeball Archery
Kickball Triathlon
Ultimate frisbee Kayaking
Ball hockey Running
Cricket Lawn bowling
Flag football Stand up paddle boarding (SUP)
Touch rugby Martial arts
Sailing Climbing

For more information on boosting your mental health through everyday activities, the Government of Canada has released an easy to read summary. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing psychosocial health issues, see a qualified healthcare provider.

How do you stay active in the summer months?

Leila Dale

Author Leila Dale

Leila Dale, PhD, is an expert in physical activity behaviour change and mobile health. She continues to conduct research through the School of Kinesiology at UBC and is a consultant for the World Health Organization. Aside from work, she is a mom of two and loves to run around with them outdoors.

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