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Australian winter sports

10 March, 2016
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Participation in sport is hugely important for both kids and adults, and should be encouraged. The main benefits of sport are improved health and fitness, as well as the development of social and communication skills, but the list of benefits really is endless.

Professor Bruno Grandi, President of The Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) is quoted as saying, “The difference between machinery and the human body is unyielding. The former wears out in use, while the latter is perfected in motion”. In other words, the more we use and train our bodies, the better they work.

Whether for your child who’s just starting to develop social skills, or an adult who’s looking to improve their overall health and wellbeing, sport should be played all year around. Thankfully, there are lots of different activities to choose from, so you should have no problem finding a sport that suits you.

As we say goodbye to summer favourites like swimming, Nippers and tennis, let’s take a look at some of the best winter sports to try in 2016.

Rugby league


Playing rugby league provides you with a healthy workout in a fun environment. According to a 2013 study, the average rugby league player works at 80% of their maximum heart rate and travels more than 3086m over a 40 minute game.

There is a strong sense of mateship in rugby league, and your child will likely meet some great role models, as these athletes tend to stay involved in the sport well beyond their playing years. 

Whether you’re young or old, rugby league is lots of fun, character building and teaches you some great lessons in community spirit.

Netball


Playing netball requires you to run around the court, sprint short distances, and change direction quickly. The running skills involved provide a good cardiovascular workout, and after just a short time of playing the game you’ll notice your fitness, strength and agility will be significantly improved.

Netball players require and develop good hand-eye coordination, and team cooperation is crucial. Many player positions are restricted to less than half the pitch, meaning you must rely on your teammates to bring the whole game together. For this reason, netball is a sport that really encourages friendship, trust and camaraderie.

Squash


Squash is a fantastic sport for fitness, and this exhilarating racket sport is extremely fast paced. Unlike most other sports, you’re constantly active when playing squash due to its enclosed court, meaning no time for breathers, and staying on your toes at all times.

To play squash you do need to have a relatively good level of fitness but, as with any sport, the more you play the fitter you will become. The good news is that there are thousands of squash courts all over the country, and most sports facilities hire them out for a reasonable fee. Once you’ve found your feet on the court, you might consider joining a “squash ladder” where you can climb the ladder based on your performance levels in a type of mini league.

Oztag

Oztag is the latest craze in recreational sport, and competitions are running right around the country. Oztag is a non-tackling game with limited contact that encourages passing, catching, tagging, evasion and kicking. It is played over two 20-minute halves, with eight players per team. Essentially it’s a non-contact version of Rugby League, and was developed as a training tool for the under 21’s St George team.

Oztag is an exciting, social game that can be played by people from all walks of life. It’s particularly popular with young children, whose parents aren’t quite ready to watch their little ones get tackled on the field.

AFL


Football is an integral part of many Australian communities, and community football competitions are thriving like never before. Most Australian towns offer an AFL team to suit everyone’s needs, goals and lifestyle.

Due to the nature of AFL, the main benefits gained from playing are heightened physical fitness, improved hand-eye coordination, and better communication skills. Playing in a team forms a bond based on teamwork, strong mateship, and camaraderie.

Snow sports

Skiing and snowboarding are two of the most popular snowsports in Australia, and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Australia is home to a number of ski resorts and snow sports can be enjoyed in NSW, Tasmania and Victoria. Prices vary depending on which resort you choose, so shop around for a bargain if you hope to participate regularly.

Snow sports are great because not only do they entail a sense of fun and adventure, but they elevate the heart rate through the physical exertion of walking and carrying equipment. Skiing and snowboarding are aerobic exercises that offer an intense cardio workout, burning more than 480 calories an hour based on a person weighing 68kg. 

Hockey

Hockey is a team-based sport played on artificial turf or grass, depending on the competition level. A game consists of two 35-minute halves, with a five to ten minute break in the middle. Each team has 10 players on the field and one in the goal.

Hockey is a total-body workout that includes both aerobic and anaerobic elements. The start-stop nature of the game is a form of high-intensity interval training, which can burn calories fast and boost your metabolism. The result is a number of health benefits to the body, both physically and mentally.  

Hockey also provides a strength-training workout, with the core and leg muscles being developed in particular. Quick reactions are a must during game play, and players require and develop speed, power and agility. 

Soccer

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and is played in virtually every country. The team sport involves 11 players on each side who use their legs, head and torso to pass a ball and score goals. The nature of the game means that players are often sprinting, running fast, slowing, then resting, offering a high-intensity interval training session each and every game.

People of all ages can play soccer and, other than a little coordination, no major skills are required to take part. Soccer is a great workout as well as being lots of fun, and players enjoy benefits such as improved aerobic capacity and cardiovascular health, improved muscle tone, lower body fat, greater endurance, and better flexibility. Soccer also promotes teamwork and sharing while teaching you to ‘think on the run’, making it a great sport for kids still developing these skills.

Tips for choosing your activity

To choose an activity that suits yours or your child’s lifestyle, you must first look at your health goals, personal preferences, and skillsets. Do your research, and:

Choose an indoor activity if you are bothered by weather extremes;

  • Choose an activity you’ll enjoy - not just what’s ‘good for you’ or what your friend is doing;
  • Keep budget and time in mind;
  • Be realistic about your fitness levels;
  • Consider mixing it up;
  • Join a team or acquire a training buddy to help you stay on track;
  • Find something to fit with your lifestyle and commitments.
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