Health: which sport to choose? Summarizing the benefits of sport and ignoring those of relapse (for example controlling the overweight sport reduces the risk of tumors ), we can say that there are five areas of intervention:
- cardiovascular protection and efficiency ( HDL cholesterol , arterial pressure, increased cardiac function, etc.);
- body weight control;
- musculoskeletal efficiency;
- hormonal stimulation and regulation ( glycemic control , stimulation of growth hormone etc.);
- psychic action ( stress control , increased willpower and self-esteem, etc.).
The various sports are obviously not equivalent to health because they have a different effectiveness in the various areas of intervention.
The duration and intensity of sporting action determine the level of protection of the sport in question.
Obviously, every sport has other positive aspects, in addition to those of a healthy nature; in fact, it is not possible to ignore the fun, the social contacts, the emotional involvement that leads the individual into a state of well-being, etc. In this article, however, only the health benefits deriving from sports practice will be considered. In this perspective, it is precisely the duration and intensity of the activity that determine its benefits, naturally considering that the activity is not occasional, but continuous and planned (for more information, see our article Wellness: how many weekly trips? ) . Let’s once again warn against a casual, disorderly and sometimes exaggerated sport:
the benefits are only if you are trained.
The duration of the sporting action is a fundamental parameter: if the sporting practice is exhausted too shortly, the body does not have time to put into motion all those transformations that then lead to a better condition. Moreover, Harvard’s study is clear: 6-8 hours of activity per week for maximum effect. Of course, even with three or four you have significant results, but with ten minutes a day forget to use the sport to prolong your life.
Intensity is also important, albeit to a lesser extent than duration (for further information on this aspect, we recommend reading our Sport article : high or low intensity ). While in some areas it is essential (for example for stimulation of growth hormone or for muscle efficiency), for others (such as weight control ) it may not be; my personal experience is that a low level of intensity often leads the individual to a progressive reduction of activity with consequent problems on duration.
To know the energetic mechanisms that regulate the sporting gesture, see the article Energy mechanisms .
Sport in Italy
Before analyzing the health assessment of the various sports, let’s see what the sport situation in Italy is.
It is certainly not a mystery to anyone that Italians are not particularly known for the assiduity in the practice of some sporting activity, but, fortunately, there is some good news.
According to what reported in the document Sport in Italy – Numbers and context(written in 2016, currently – November 2017 – the most recent available) that takes into account data for the year 2013, the “sports numbers” are the following:
- 19 million and 600 thousand are the people who in 2015 declare to practice one or more sports in their free time;
- 15 million and 600 thousand are those who, while not practicing a sport, perform some physical activity
- 23 million and 500 thousand are the people who declare themselves completely sedentary
A painting that reveals glimpses and shadows; the sedentary are still very many, but the comforting fact is that, probably also behind the many health campaigns and thanks to the work done by sites like ours, something is moving.