When my grandfather gave me a tennis racquet for Christmas one year, I had no idea that gift would change my life. I gave tennis a shot, and I quickly fell in love with the sport. I set out with the goal to one day be able to beat my grandfather, a seasoned recreational player with a big serve and a veteran's touch around the net. By the time I achieved that momentous feat, I was hooked on the game. Throughout high school, I played in tournaments across Texas, from Dallas to Corpus Christi and everywhere in between. After a brief hiatus from regular practice and match play during college, I've picked tennis back up. As I've gotten back into the "swing" of things (pun intended), I've started to learn why playing a lifetime sport – a physical activity that is enjoyed by participants of all ages, e.g., tennis – can benefit your life in the office. Here are my top three reasons why picking up a lifetime sport will enhance your professional experience.
It enhances your mental performance. Aerobic exercise – or cardio – raises your heart rate, which increases blood flow and oxygen delivery to your brain. This effect has been shown to increase your brain's production of neurons, which control your memory and cognition functions. In layman's terms, this means that regular exercise can improve your ability to process information and to learn, which enhances creativity, helps make better decisions and aids in overcoming challenging projects. Exercise also promotes healthier sleep habits, which in turn produce better cognitive functioning. Finally, studies have shown that regular exercise is effective in preventing depression and the onset of dementia.
It boosts your quality of life in the office. While most people know that regular exercise improves physical health, not everyone knows that poor physical fitness can have detrimental effects in the workplace. In fact, studies have shown that the impact of obesity has cost Americans more than $1.7 trillion in lost productivity and direct health-care costs. However, the benefits of regular exercise are not merely preventative. Regular exercise has also been linked to improved mood, heightened energy levels and lowered stress levels.
It opens opportunities for networking. Lifetime sports bring people from many demographics and industries together and builds bonds through a shared pursuit of a goal. You don’t necessarily have to stop seeking to build meaningful business relationships just because you are away from the office. Who knows, your next great business partnership might be forged during a Saturday afternoon round of golf or at a pickup basketball game at the local YMCA.