Speaking with a friend recently about training, she told me that she ‘liked sport but not exercise’. To which I probably unhelpfully replied, ‘but you’re so much better at sport when you’re fit, and exercise makes you fitter’; showing off my uber competitive side.
Similarly, after a work netball practise (our first, with only 3 from our team), I exclaimed how much I’d loved training, whilst a colleague told me she’d hated it. That she didn’t mind working out, but didn’t enjoy the competitive side of our training session (not led by me, I hasten to add).
These conversations got me thinking about the difference between sport and exercise. You can be good at sport; be fast, have great hand eye co-ordination, be a natural. With exercise, usually you are fit, working towards getting fitter, or trying to lose weight. I don’t think you can be bad at exercise. Obviously you can have natural skills, strength, and moves that you don’t necessarily get, but as long as you put the effort in and are motivated, you’ll be fine. Less so with sports.
Thinking back, I’ve always been fairly sporty, getting involved with numerous different activities at school, but I wasn’t necessarily fit. It was the team aspect, and the competitive nature of sport that I enjoyed, which is why when I went to Uni and didn’t find a team that I loved, I became increasingly inactive.
Now my whole outlook has changed, if there’s something physically challenging on offer, mostly I’m up for it. Whether it’s playing netball or dodgeball, hiking, running or cycling. Even if I’m not very skilled at it, like tennis, I’m willing to give it a go. And I’ve found that what I lack in skills, I often make up for in fitness and OK hand-eye coordination.
Obviously a lot of athletes, and sportsmen and women train to become better at their sports. They spend time in the gym, working on strength and cardio, to increase sporting performance levels.
Tom regularly plays football with friends, goes out for days of golf, loved our weekly dodgeball games and is always keen for a game of tennis on holiday. But he isn’t a gym goer. He won’t go out for a run unless he’s got something to train for like a half marathon. He doesn’t get the enjoyment from the exercise itself. He does however love that running has made him fitter and more agile on the football field!
I used to wish that Tom would come for a run or gym session with me, but the more I think about it, and try to encourage friends to get in to fitness, the more I realise that whether it’s playing netball or football (or dodgeball), going for a quick run or just walking to work, as long as you’re keeping active and you enjoy it, that’s all that matters.
Do you prefer to play sport or to do a solo style workout? Or do you exercise so that you can better at a sport? Until now, I’ve avoided playing netball as I hadn’t played since Uni and didn’t want to embarrass myself by being useless, however after having so much fun at training last week, it’s definitely something I want to start playing again.