Leisure Sports Might Lead to Health Problems Later in Life, Warn Scientists

by Hannah Punitha on Oct 31 2008 4:55 PM

One may say that people who take up bowling are productively using their spare time to stay fit, but if not careful, these amateur sports might lead to health problems later in life, warn scientists.

A new study led by Dr. Navah Ratzon, a long-time occupational therapist and director of the Occupational Therapy Department at Tel Aviv University, has stated that a number of improper leisure sport activities may have negative effects on the musculoskeletal system.

"Increasing numbers of adults are pursuing amateur athletics during their leisure hours. But we've found worrying indications that this activity --­ when not done properly -- may have negative effects on the musculoskeletal system," she said.

Musculoskeletal disorders and disease may cause of disability, and chronic conditions people who are 50 years and older, and they are characterised by discomfort, pain or disease of the muscles, joints or soft tissues connecting the bones.

By focussing study specifically to bowlers, the researchers found that 62pct of the 98 athletes in the study had musculoskeletal problems - aches and pains in the back, fingers, and wrist, for example.

The study suggested that the degree of pain reported by a player increased with the increase in the number of leagues in which the person participated. Thus, they concluded that the intensity of the sport worsened the risk of long-term musculoskeletal damage.

It was observed that the risks are particularly high in sports where the body is held asymmetrically and repetitive movements are made.

Ratzon advised that all ball sports should be played with caution, which may include sports like golf, basketball, tennis and squash.

"Your body is meant to work in a certain way. If you jump for the tennis ball while twisting your back, you put too much stress on your body because it's an unnatural movement," said Ratzon.

One preventive measures people can easily follow to avoid long-term damage is-stretching before playing sports. But people should also take other measures to keep their bodies fit.

Ratzon suggested that if one plays baseball, tennis, or golf, one could balance the asymmetrical activity by alternating the use of your right and left arms before, during and after the game, at home or at the office.

"There is really a long list of things people should integrate into their mindset when playing amateur sports," said Ratzon, who added that one should also take into account other factors such as noise, poor weather, and lack of proper rest.

She pointed out that people should avoid stressing about their amateur sports activities. If they get anxious when they don't find time for the team each week and shut out other important aspects of their life, such as time with the family, the stress can exacerbate a predisposition to chronic health problems.

The study was recently published in the journal Work.