Smells like Team Spirit

Struggle to motivate yourself to exercise? Here’s why team sports might just be the fitness friend you need in your life…

When it’s cold and dark outside, it’s easy to see why the sofa is likely to win over the gym, especially if you’re the kind of person who needs somebody to push you with your fitness. That’s where team sports come in, the theory being that you’re less likely to bail on a session if you feel like you’re letting other people down. And it’s a double win, as not only will they help you stay in shape but also you may make some new mates along the way. Here are five of our favourite ways to combine fun, friends and fitness. so, what are you waiting for?


Where to play Increasing in popularity thanks in part to the success of the England women’s football team, you can take your pick from an 11-a-side or a five-a-side team. Why it works playing regularly can help to protect against problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. A typical match burns a whopping 1,100-1,200 calories. What women say “I first started playing football with my dad in the yard when I was about four,” says England women’s captain Steph Houghton. “then I’d play in the street with my friends, and basically just be kicking a ball against a wall whenever I could. I’ve loved football ever since. Team sports are useful in terms of getting and staying fit because you’ve got all your teammates there to push you on when you’re feeling tired and encourage you to be the best you can be. I’ve made lifelong friends from the game and I’ll be forever grateful for that.” More information The FA’s website can help you find your nearest club. Visit


Where to play A non-contact version of regular rugby, Touch Rugby League can be played in both mixed or single-sex teams – but don’t worry, tackling isn’t allowed so it’s not as rough as regular rugger! Why it works Playing a few times a week, along with the warm-up exercises, offers brilliant physical training. A 40-minute fixture covers about 3km, including sprinting distances of up to 30m. On average, players work at 80 per cent of their maximum heart rate, building muscle tone and burning up to 610 calories per hour. It provides a great HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout, which burns fat and increases your metabolism. What women say “I wanted to play some sort of sport and I liked how easy it was to sign up and be put in a team. All I had to do was turn up. It’s a fantastic way to get to know people,” says O2 Touch player Jay Chou-Lee. More information Go online to fnd teams near you. Visit or


Where to play Played both indoors and outdoors, the aim of the game is to throw balls at the opposing team to eliminate them from play. With over 150,000 people playing on a weekly basis, there isn’t a shortage of clubs. Why it works A one-hour session can burn around 350 calories (that’s if you stay on the court without getting hit the whole way through!). All the dodging and throwing makes for a great cardio workout too. It’s great for strength, flexibility and is also a great stress reliever. What women say “I’ve loved dodgeball since I frst played it seven years ago! I love the way it’s an inclusive sport and caters for all people from both sporting and non-sporting backgrounds who are looking to play seriously or just for fun,” says Steph White, Scotland Highlanders’ women’s coach. “I think the people make the sport and the friendships I’ve made mean I enjoy playing and competing even more.” More information Visit


Where to play You can find a basketball court in most local leisure centres, so it’s ideal for those who prefer to exercise indoors when the weather isn’t great. Why it works Whether you’re on the attack or in defence, you’ll be jogging up and down a 94ft long court and you’ll burn on average around 584 calories per hour. Basketball is an excellent full-body workout and helps develop useful, lean muscles. What women say “It can stretch your mind with the technical IQ required as you always look to develop your skills, fitness and athleticism. One of the biggest elements in success is finding chemistry with your teammates. The collective effect of that can be inspiring and hugely enjoyable,” says Stef Collins, a basketball legend and the most capped basketball player in Great Britain’s history. More information For your nearest team, email


Where to play A full-contact sport, it’s a cross between rugby and running a race except everyone is on roller skates and there’s no ball! Why it works It’s a great cardio workout and is good for your strength, balance and endurance. You can burn 450 calories during a 30-minute roller derby game. What women say “Roller derby is a great way to get fit and be a part of a team,” says Katy Gordon, vice chair of the UKRDA. “It is a real mix of endurance, agility and strength training and is one of the most effective all-round sports for exercise. Most clubs don’t expect you to have any skating experience because full training is provided. And as it’s a sport that started as female-only, there’s a real feeling of empowerment for women, particularly those who fell away from traditional sports as teenagers.” More information You need to join a league to take part. Visit

31st March 2016
Written by Vanessa Margetts