It seems that most men find the idea of washboard stomachs, shapely pecs and biceps appealing, but there are plenty more who are keen to bring aspects like stamina, toned physique, cardiovascular health, and entertainment into the equation too. Men are often concerned with personal bests and honing skills, and to get good at something, they need to invest time and effort. Therefore choosing the right sport from the offset may be a primary concern.
There is a vast number of options out there for fitness-conscious men to choose from, so knowing which is the right sport can be a little tricky; it may depend on factors such as how competitive they are, their fitness goals, and how easily bored they are. It will also depend on physical capabilities and limitations.
If you want to figure out which sport to take up, check out our top seven health-enhancing sports that are popular with men. We’re also offering insights on what you can get from them, and the main factors required for success:
Table tennis is a fun and social exercise that doesn’t require you to take yourself too seriously. Nor does it demand as much energy expenditure as normal tennis, so it is a great alternative for those who can’t (or don’t want to) run around too much. However, you may be constantly chasing missed balls as a beginner so there are extra calories to burn - unless the table is yours for hours! Table tennis requires good hand-eye coordination, which means there’s always room for improvement if you like a challenge.
You’ll definitely burn a few calories if you make the effort - there is just less of a spacial range to move through. Table tennis takes two, so it’s a good way to make friends or go head to head with a regular partner.
Table tennis is for you if:
You have a fun-loving nature
- You focus easily or want to cultivate mental agility
- You prefer light exercise or need to ease yourself into fitness gently
- You’re competitive
Table tennis is not for you if:
- Your reflexes are naturally slow - although it might help to improve them
- You thrive on versatile activities with a wide range of movements
- You don’t have a lot of patience - collecting missed balls may challenge you at first!
Like tennis, squash is a high-energy exercise. It will leave you sweating profusely and feeling light on your feet afterwards. Squash is one of the best choices for those who want peak cardiovascular health or weight loss from their sport. Squash demands a lot from you physically and mentally, but leads to great strength and stamina. As an aerobic activity, it can burn around 600 calories in an hour or more – dependent on how much effort you put in, obviously.
Squash is a versatile sport because it can be interactive or not, according to your mood. If you want to work out alone, no problem – it works fine with just you and the squash court since the walls become your partner. Conversely, you can partner up and try to outdo the other in terms of agility and reflexes. With squash, there’s never a dull moment!
Squash is for you if:
- You don’t always want to rely on a partner to work out with
- You want to burn plenty of calories and lose fat
- You often find you have excess energy to burn off
- You enjoy intense competition
Squash is not for you if:
- You don’t like intense, high-energy activities
- You don’t like getting hot and sweaty
- You are bored by repetitive activities
Boxing is a sport that requires the development of skills over an extended period. It’s possible to become better and better at it while reaping the rewards in terms of physical strength, cardiovascular health and self-defense. Boxing requires physical agility and a sharp mind, as you’ll need to be constantly anticipating opponents’ moves.
Although it improves joint mobility, flexibility and coordination, you should have a naturally strong constitution as there is a high chance of sustaining injuries. Boxing is a highly competitive sport with a substantial risk factor, but it can lead to an enviable physique and mental agility over time.
Boxing is for you if:
- You’re an adrenaline junkie
- You like a mental challenge and enjoy navigating unpredictable events
- You want to build your physique and stamina
- You’re agile and forward thinking (or want to be)
- You’re competitive
Boxing is not for you if:
- You have physical ailments or injuries that may be worsened by high impact activities
- You have a low pain threshold
- You are concerned with vanity – once broken, that nose may never look the same again!
- You like an easy life and prefer to be in control of events
Basketball is a high-energy exercise that requires quick thinking and coordination with others. It’s fun and can burn high numbers of calories, so is great for overall fitness. You can expect to improve your metabolic rate, physical agility, coordination and endurance.
Basketball will develop personal skills and can be played outdoors if you enjoy working out in the fresh air. As a competitive sport that requires cooperation, it tends to generate team camaraderie and connection. The course of a match will be entirely unpredictable so it doesn’t get boring, and plenty of endorphins will be released, which enhances your mood. Expect to leave the game on a high whether you win or lose!
Basketball is for you if:
- You are competitive and love to play games
- You are a team player rather than a lone ranger
- You love to interact and connect with other people
- You’re particularly tall or agile
Basketball is not for you if:
- You like to be in control of your physical exertion
- You’re shy or lack confidence (although such sports can improve these things)
- You’re don’t have a competitive nature or being held accountable for failures!
Running can be done alone, with a companion or in a group – no matter your age. It can be competitive or otherwise, and you can build skills gradually over time. It burns lots of calories if you put in the effort, but it is a high impact sport so you’ll need to pay attention to the effects it has on your body; using the right sportswear is paramount, since shin splints from the wrong running shoes are no laughing matter.
Running improves cardio health, stamina and muscle tone, and releases mood-enhancing endorphins – that’s where the term “runner’s high” came from.
Running is for you if:
- You are happy with repetitive movements and sustained effort
- You love the outdoors
- You love to beat personal bests
- You’re interested in overall fitness and a slim physique
Running is not for you if:
- You don’t have the funds to invest in decent running shoes and kit
- You have joint problems
- You get bored easily
Soccer is one of the world’s most popular sports, whether watching or playing. There is a tribal aspect to it; it gives people something to believe in and root for, and it’s one of the best team activities around. Soccer can bring you great results in terms of cardio health and physique, and it has a mental aspect too since you need to think on your feet and strategize as a team. The highs of winning a soccer game are notorious, so prepare to feel emotional! The sport is renowned for building comradeship, so you might make friends for life if you join a team.
Soccer is for you if:
- You like versatile, unpredictable activities
- You prefer team interaction
- The concept of winning is a priority in life
- You like the idea of developing a broad new skill set
Soccer is not for you if:
- You can’t commit to regular activities – letting the side down is generally frowned upon!
- You can’t risk the occasional injury – those studs can be brutal!
- You don’t want to be held accountable for errors!
Once you’ve weighed up the pros and cons, it shouldn’t be too difficult to decide on which is the right sport for you. Most will lead to some degree of weight loss and improved fitness, but you’ll need to decide if you’re the kind of guy who functions best as a lone ranger or a team player, and whether you prefer to be mentally engaged or relaxed.