It has been long established that getting some exercise is good for your physical health – and now all the evidence points to the fact that it is a great thing for your mental health too. Being physically active can boost your mood, decrease your chance of developing anxiety or depression, and leave you with more energy.
However, some men don’t like the idea of exercising just for the sake of exercising. If you’re not someone who loves running or going to the gym, these forms of exercise can feel tedious and lonely. If this sounds familiar, it could be a great idea to enjoy some of the more social sports available, especially over the summer when you can get outside more easily.:
Here are six of the best social summer sports that can be a huge benefit for men’s mental health:
Perhaps the most quintessential summer sport is tennis. After watching world-class tennis players during the world-famous Wimbledon fortnight, it is easy to get inspired to serve a few aces of your own. Some famous names have battled their own mental health issues too, including Australian player, Nick Kyrgios who, despite his ‘bad boy’ reputation, is incredibly popular with tennis fans.
Perhaps not always seen as the most social sport, tennis can actually be a fun group activity if you play doubles. Tennis clubs can feel intimidating especially if you are only interested in playing for fun. A better option could be a leisure centre that offers outdoor courts. If you need partners to play with, consider going to a social tennis event at a country club. These sessions are ideal for meeting like-minded players looking for a game.
Not all mental health-boosting sports need to be super energetic. Of course, golf will get you working up a sweat and can be an excellent full-body workout, but the fact that it is not a high-impact sport means it is better for the knees and feet. Heading down to the golf course on a summer’s day is a great way to spend the afternoon.
You might think that you need to be near a golf course in order to enjoy top-quality golfing with friends, but this doesn’t actually need to be the case. In fact, an increasing number of men are looking into the prospect of putting a golfing simulator in their homes.
The concept doesn’t take up as much space as you might imagine (you only need around 3 metres in height and 4.5 metres in depth) and it comes with the enormous benefit that you can enjoy a round of golf no matter what the weather looks like. Golf simulators are more affordable than ever as well, so it is definitely an option worth considering.
Basketball is the second most popular sport among schoolchildren in the UK. A big part of that is probably the fact that this is a fun and energetic team game with the opportunity to chat and socialise while you play. Perhaps it is surprising, then, that this popularity doesn’t always translate to adulthood.
Playing basketball as an adult remains a lot of fun and it can be a brilliant workout for the mind as well as the body. Many basketball clubs run social sessions where there is no skill threshold required. Alternatively, you only need six people to play games of 3×3 basketball, which was recently added as an Olympic sport.
Not necessarily a sport, as such, hiking is nevertheless a truly rewarding and fun activity that can do wonders for your mental health. Getting out into nature is something that many of us simply don’t do enough of. This is especially true if you live in a big town or a city.
Studies have shown that walking in the countryside can be an extremely good thing for your mental health. And best of all, this is a summer sport that you can do for free!
For many men, football has always been their first and most enduring sporting love. Of course, it is not always that easy to get 22 people together for a full-pitch game of football. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up hope of playing football over the summer.
5-a-side football is extremely popular, whether you can get a group of friends together for a kickabout, or if you’ve got a few people interested in forming a team and competing in a tournament. Any time that you can bring a team together for a competitive game of 5-a-side, you’re guaranteed to have fun.
Martial arts can be great for relieving stress. This is not least because many forms of martial arts encourage deep breathing exercises, mindfulness and even meditation.
There is a huge range of martial arts that you might be interested in trying. Even if you aren’t comfortable or interested in the idea of punching and kicking with karate or taekwondo, there are options such as judo that emphasise throws and pins. Alternatively, if you are more practically minded, Krav Maga is a martial art that focuses on real-world situations.
With exercise proving to boost your mental well-being in so many ways, it is good to explore new and sociable sports that you can take up this summer to reap the benefits now and in the longer-term. If you’re the guy who shies away from being active, there are loads of sporting options to choose from if you put your mind to it and motivate yourself.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.