Since the 17th century, the sport of lacrosse was invented by Native Americans to be both a competitive physical activity as well as a spiritual tradition that honored “The Creator.” Today, it is one of the fastest growing sports among youth in America. The cardiovascular, strength and mental benefits gained by playing lacrosse are qualities that can have a tremendous positive impact on players.
Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
- Burns calories: A lacrosse field is 110 yards long and 60 yards wide; running through a field this size is a high-impact aerobic activity. According to the Mayo Clinic, a 160-pound person burns 533 calories per hour performing high-impact aerobics. A lacrosse game typically lasts one to two hours, allowing players to burn hundreds of calories per game. Continuously burning off excess calories is one of the best ways for players to either lose excess weight or keep their present weight under control.
- Increased mental acuity: It takes discipline to play lacrosse, as the tactics and skill development needed take time and persistence to develop. Not only will players develop mental discipline, but they also reap the benefits provided by regular exercise, which has been shown to improve mental performance, mood and performance in school/work.
- Improves cardiovascular endurance: Each player’s heart and lungs must be strong enough to play a full game without getting tired, and like all organs, the heart and lungs adapt to the demands placed on them. Players build cardiovascular endurance during practice and games. Each time a player runs up and down the field, his heart and lungs get stronger and his stamina increases.
- Increased agility: Lacrosse games involve continuous running and sprinting, as well as throwing and catching the ball while on the run or changing direction. A few of the most important skills developed through lacrosse are fast footwork and a high level of quickness and agility. Improved reaction times are also a benefit, which can carry over into daily life when split-second decisions must be made to avoid an accident or a fall.
- Is a full-body strengthening workout: Lacrosse works virtually every major muscle in the body. Swinging a lacrosse stick and throwing a lacrosse ball work muscles in the upper and lower arms. Cradling, a technique used to maintain control of the ball using a lacrosse stick, also requires arm strength and range of motion. The consistent running works the leg muscles. Players bend up and down and from side to side when chasing and catching lacrosse balls, and these movements work the core muscles.
- Builds endurance: Lacrosse combines the skills of basketball, soccer and hockey into a fast paced, high endurance test of strength and agility. With a playing area roughly the size of a football field there is a high demand for speed and strength. The training is rigorous and focused. Dedication is required to succeed. Struggling physically also helps build a person mentally. Pushing through and making a goal builds confidence and commitment. The hard work that goes into this sport helps develop a strong character, one that will benefit a person for years to come and help them endure other things in life unrelated to the game.
- Socialization: Team sports are an excellent way to teach social interaction and how to work with others. Lacrosse teaches teammates to set goals and accomplish those goals with the help of others, a vital real-world skill. Overcoming obstacles within a team is also a good way to develop lifelong friendships.
- Coordination: One area where lacrosse players benefit is in the training of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Catching a small ball in a cupped net, especially in the middle of a game, is much more difficult than it looks. Combine running, jumping and blocking, and you have a recipe for coordination that will benefit players for a lifetime.
- Good for mental health: According to Fitness.gov, those who engage in intense physical activities for prolonged time periods can relieve the symptoms of mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Such activities can also promote stress relief and minimize the effects of stress-related ailments, such as insomnia. Playing sports encourages peer interaction as well, which reduces feelings of isolation and can improve a person’s overall mood. Also, the feelings of accomplishment associated with learning a new skill and winning a game can improve a lacrosse player’s self-esteem.
- Teaches discipline: Devoting time to a team sport teaches the power of productive habits. The work that goes into the game, including regular practice, teamwork and giving it your all, teaches the value of adopting habits that are beneficial. Regular practice, healthy eating, getting enough rest, overcoming mistakes and failure – all of these habits can be learned through lacrosse.
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