Bored of pounding away on the treadmill? Playing sports can be a great way to get more active and fit, while improving your mental alertness, energy and mood.
Research published last month by California State University, Fullerton, linked children’s participation in team sports to fewer mental health difficulties. The study highlighted that children involved in team sports, such as soccer, basketball, cricket and rugby, were less likely to have signs of anxiety, depression, withdrawal, social problems and attention issues.
Team and individual sports can also be a fun way to meet some of your daily fitness goals, regardless of your age or sport of choice.
Dubai resident and student Mikkel D’Mello turns to football for overall fitness. “Playing football is more engaging than working out in a gym. You don’t feel restricted to your exercise area and it’s a great full-body workout,” he says.
No matter what your age is, it’s never too late to improve your fitness. Sports academies in the UAE offer the perfect infrastructure and facilities — both indoors and outdoors — to improve your existing skills and try something new. This summer, they have lined up a host of activities for children as well as adults, helping them stay fit and healthy.
“Playing a sport benefits a person at multiple levels,” says Shirani Basheer, COO, Racquet Science Academy, a sports training centre in Dubai, offering specialised coaching in tennis, table tennis and badminton. “It helps us reach our fitness goals and maintain a healthy weight. Sports also help in developing resilience, leadership, teamwork, discipline, patience and other vital life skills.”
Schools and parents have now become more aware of the importance of sports for children’s physical and mental well-being and are actively encouraging them to pick up at least one sport during their developmental years, says Basheer. “Sport academies have played a critical role in bringing about this change by offering some of the top-notch facilities and raising awareness on the benefits of sports.”
Racquet Science Academy has lined up interesting summer camps for children and focused training programmes for adults.
Encourage kids to stay active
With schools closed for two months, summer holidays can become pretty monotonous for children. In the absence of any regular activities, they often end up spending their waking hours staring at screens. This summer, give your child the opportunity to become part of a well-structured camp, where they can explore rewarding, fun and engaging activities.
“At Air Maniax and Street Maniax, our goal is to get kids away from phone and screens so that they can indulge in an active lifestyle. Our adventure parks are known for providing fun for everyone, while getting you up and moving,” says Riyaz Suterwalla, Founder and CFO.
“Our parks are the place to engage with the community and promote an active lifestyle. Our delicious cafe also offers a wide selection of healthy beverages to cool you down and fill you up while being healthy,” says Suterwalla.
Air Maniax and Street Maniax offer an exciting range of adventure activities in air conditioned areas for both children and adults.
“We have a fun packed summer camp programme in our branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for the little ones so they can create memories, make new friends and stay active,” adds Suterwalla.
Sports safety tips
While the most important part about playing a sport is having fun, it’s critical to listen to your body before starting a new sport or activity, say doctors. Practising too intensely without giving your body a chance to recover can lead to injuries, muscle strain, and stress fractures.
“Warm up and stretch before an activity or sport to prevent any injury,” says Dr Mohammad Munir Al Rusan, Specialist — Orthopedic Surgery at Bareen International Hospital — MBZ City.
“Stretching improves flexibility, increases blood flow to the muscles and reduces tightness.”
Taking a break and slowing down when you train is essential, say Dr Al Rusan. “Don’t put yourself through pain. Pain is like a signal asking you to watch out and take some rest. It’s also important to take time off from training. Even elite athletes take at least one day off per week. Rest is very important for muscle growth.”
Proper hydration improves sports performance, while regulating body temperature and boosting energy levels, he says.
“Drink plenty of water. Not only does water keep the body well-hydrated, it helps energise the muscles. If muscle cells do not get enough fluids and electrolytes, it can lead to muscle fatigue, impacting sports performance.”
With additional inputs from Esha Chaturvedi, intern at Gulf News Commercial Publishing
“Tennis has the power to unite people”
In conversation with Leila Raza, Chief Marketing Officer, PRO Tennis Academy
Please share some details on PRO Tennis Academy.
All of us at PRO Tennis Academy either played college tennis, played professionally or played in high school. We have a very strong emotional connection to the sport and we transmit it to our players. Tennis has the power to unite people. It is a sentiment proven time and again in cities and communities all over the world. And we live by it!
Today, we have a great community on and off the court where everyone is able to make friends through a shared love of tennis.
What are the benefits of playing tennis?
Tennis is a sport that demands a high degree of mental, physical, emotional and technical competency; so it is an incredibly challenging sport to play well. Clearly, running around a tennis court is great for your overall fitness and learning a new skill such as tennis, is a fantastic way to boost your mental sharpness. But, there are many more benefits of playing tennis regularly. On the lighter side of things, playing tennis is a great way to meet new people and most importantly, have fun.
What steps have you taken to inspire the community to engage and thrive in an active lifestyle?
To keep our players engaged, we host weekly tournaments for different levels and ages. We constantly work on an interactive format that would promise fast-paced action, a playful atmosphere, and behind-the-scenes storytelling. So far it has been a resounding success. Last season, from September 2021 – June 2022, we were able to host more than 50 tournaments in a span of nine months with over 1,200 participants across all ages. We also regularly participate in local initiatives such as Dubai Fitness Challenge, Dubai Sports Council Community Leagues and more.
For more information:
M: +971 50 105 2176