When choosing a new fitness activity, women sometimes have a different agenda to men. It’s certainly not always the case, but even when the agenda is similar, differences in physical capabilities may make some sports more appealing than others. Aspiring to have a toned and slim physique may compel you take up aerobic sports, while the desire to meet new friends and be part of a social activity might have you seeking out a team sport.
For the ladies who are scratching their heads and wondering which sport to take up, we have come up with a few insights on popular female-friendly sports that will help you to reap the most rewards from your fitness activities.
Swimming is one of the best workouts all round as it exercises your entire body and helps you burn fat fast. Swimming boosts cardiovascular health, stamina, lung capacity, muscle tone and mental health. It is great for women of all ages and can even help to improve physical injuries and ailments. Swimming is a peaceful, low-impact, non-competitive exercise… but at the same time it burns plenty of calories. Swimming is an excellent way to burn stubborn belly fat, and it can be done anywhere, at any time of year. You’ve got the beach, lakes and outdoor pools if you’re the outdoors type, and indoor pools if you prefer shelter.
Swimming is for you if:
- You like peaceful, calm exercise
- You’re looking to tone your whole body
- You want to increase your stamina or lose weight
- You have physical injuries to heal
- You like to workout alone
- You don’t like chlorine
- You don’t have a lot of spare time
- You’re competitive
- You get bored easily or don’t like repetitive movements
- You thrive on interaction with others
Volleyball is an athletic team sport that will work out your whole body. Since you’ll be cooperating with others for those all-important wins, you’re likely to experience a rewarding sense of camaraderie with this sport. Volleyball asks you to be quick on your feet with fast reflexes, so you’ll be expending plenty of energy in the form of calories – it’s easy to drop a few pounds while jumping at all angles for the ball.
For ladies aiming to boost their metabolic rate, volleyball may be the one. It’s also great for improving agility, hand-eye coordination and stamina. Outdoors lovers will relish this fun activity, especially when it takes place on golden beach sands. You may also be able to find female only teams if that’s what you prefer, and it helps to understand the basic rules of volleyball before you join a group.
Volleyball is for you if:
- You enjoy friendly competition
- You thrive on being part of a team
- You need to keep your mind active as well as your body
- You enjoy aerobic activities that help burn fat
Volleyball is not for you if:
- You like predictable or repetitive activities
- You like to take breaks when it suits you
- You have weak or injured knees, hips, ankles, lower back or shoulders
Cycling is a versatile sport that you can do by yourself or with others. It can be competitive or otherwise, and if you want to take part in huge marathons, you can. Cycling is an aerobic exercise so you can burn lots of fat, but at the same time it’s a low impact sport; it can help to improve joint mobility rather than challenging your joints.
Cycling takes you outdoors so you can explore nature, cities, or whatever takes your fancy. It is known to alleviate depression since endorphins are released, and it engages your mind in a meditative way, as you’ll need to focus carefully on where you’re headed at all times.
Cycling is for you if:
- You are an outdoorsy type or want to get out in nature more
- You like exercises that allow you to set your own pace
- You want to slim down all over
- You have joint problems or prefer low impact exercises
Cycling is not for you if:
- You struggle to focus or are accident prone – bike crashes are no laughing matter!
- You don’t want to splash out on equipment
- You get bored with repetitive movements
- You’re not good at braving the elements
Tennis is a high-energy exercise that will keep you on your toes. It appeals to many women since it’s an excellent sport for improving cardiovascular health, as well as toning and strengthening many muscle groups. Tennis helps to develop stamina and resilience, and requires good hand-eye coordination, which is a skill that can be cultivated; it is a mental and physical challenge in one. You can play tennis in singles or doubles, so it’s a social activity. It can be fun to do with someone who shares your fitness goals, and because you’re relying on each other if the activity is to happen at all, you’re more likely to stick with it.
Tennis is for you if:
- You have an active mind and love a challenge
- You enjoy social interaction in smaller groups
- You’re competitive
- You like the idea of looking great in a tennis skirt!
Tennis is not for you if:
- You’re not great at thinking on your feet
- You don’t tend to stick at things long term
- You have a low concentration span
Gymnastics is a particularly popular sport with women as it gives an all over body workout at the same time as an opportunity to develop some impressive skills over time. Gymnastics can be very demanding, so it suits those who love a challenge. Doing gymnastics allows you to increase flexibility in muscles and joints, as well as bone density and muscle tone.
Gymnastics boosts coordination skills, body strength and cardio health. It can be competitive or otherwise depending on your preference; regardless, this sport gives you an excellent opportunity to develop personal discipline.
Gymnastics is for you if:
- You want to take up a sport that allows you to set and reach big goals
- You want to cultivate that ‘beach body’ all year around
- You enjoy novelty and variety
- You enjoy overcoming personal challenges
Gymnastics is not you if:
- You don’t want to risk hurting yourself: it’s easy to fall, especially in the beginning
- You give up easily
- You’re shy and don’t like to be analysed
Dance is an energetic exercise that appeals to women all around the world. These days there are so many different types of dance groups around that you can choose from a myriad of styles: contemporary, ballet, tap, ecstatic dance, zumba, samba, ballroom, salsa, jazz, hip-hop… the list goes on. You’re likely to work new muscle groups and potentially tap into hidden talents!
Dance works out the whole body as it’s an aerobic exercise, and although some types of dance are more fast-paced than others, you’re likely to burn a fair few calories during a session. Dance gives you the opportunity to meet other women (and sometimes men, as they often love it too!) and it is a whole lot of fun – a great way to let go of stress and immerse yourself in the present moment. It’s also a way to expand your musical horizons, discovering new genres by trying out different groups.
Dance is for you if:
- You enjoy novelty factor or variety
- You want to find a way to de-stress
- You’re creative and enjoy freedom of expression
- You want to develop new skills in the company of others
Dance is not you if:
- You’re shy and prefer to keep yourself to yourself
- You prefer predictable work out sessions
- You struggle with physical coordination
Badminton often appeals to women who like the idea of tennis, but rather than a ball, you’ll be using a more lightweight object - a shuttlecock - which can move faster than a ball. The rules of badminton are different to the rules of tennis, but both sports bring similar health and fitness benefits. This sport still requires you to run around a lot, so it’s easy to burn calories; but badminton can be more socially interactive than tennis. While tennis allows up to two people per team, badminton allows up to six, so it’s a good choice for those who want to invite friends or family along.
Badminton is for you if:
- You want the option to play in small teams or larger groups
- You like to run around a lot to burn calories
- You’re looking for a sport that improves physical health as well as cognitive function
Badminton is not you if:
- You are easily tired or prefer to set your own pace
- You’re not competitive
- Reflexes aren’t your strong point
Now that you’ve gained some insight into some of the most popular sports for women, we hope it will be easy to decide on which is the right sport for you.