HYDERABAD: Training at a gym may not be the best way to maintain physical fitness. Medical experts say that participate in a sport provides more health benefits. Sports not only help build physical strength but also improves mental balance. Cardiologists say that participate in a sport increases cardiovascular fitness because it puts the entire body and the mind to work.
On the occasion of National Sports Day, the Centre is encouraging school and college students to participate in sports. Dr Ganesh Mathan, a cardiologist, said, “When you play a sport you activate your entire body as opposed to activating individual muscles at a gym. The movement of joints decreases vascular resistance and blood pressure also comes down. The heart gets conditioned to strenuous activity and eventually demands less oxygen, thereby increasing endurance.”
He said that students who play sports informally also make a positive contribution towards their mental and physical health. Neurologists claim that involvement of the mind leads to the improvement of general health. Dr Rajesh Nair, a neurologist, said, “There is great concentration involved when a sport is being played. Players have to focus on the entire field and maintain hand-eye coordination to play well, instead of focusing on just one muscle or one part of the body, as they would in a gym. Sportspersons need to plan ahead, and that increases their mental strength. Playing a sport ensures that the mind works along with the limbs to strike a balance.”
Medical experts also say that involvement in sporting activities from an early age helps maintain good health later in life. During old age, it helps keeps the joints as well as the brain agile. Sports also provide psychological benefits. Dr Sudhir Kumar, a neurologist, said, “Participate in a sport leads to the release of chemicals called endorphins in the brain, which makes a person feel good. It has also been noted that students who play as part of a team have better social skills because they learn group dynamics and how to work collectively towards a common goal. Sportspersons are generally more agile and outgoing because of their active lifestyle.” Brain function improves through involvement in group activities rather than solo ventures, the neurologist added.