It feels good to be part of a team. Now, researchers have found that it’s also a boost to your overall health and well-being.

Team sports not only help you get in shape and stay that way, but also are a great way to connect with people from different backgrounds and become part of a larger community. Now, several studies have revealed other holistic benefits of participating in team sports.

Team sports reduce obesity and increase overall health.

With obesity at an all-time high, it is essential to participate in physical activities, especially if you spend most of your day sitting at a desk. You should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week, which helps avoid such chronic diseases as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease, according to The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But with work (and life) getting in the way, that’s easier said than done. Joining a local kickball, dodgeball or basketball league can help you commit to meeting those guidelines, week after week.

Athletes who train with a team are healthier.

Not only does being part of a team give you access to health professionals, but also provides a built-in support system that can rally around you when you are pursuing specific health goals. It seems that teamwork is a good tool for improving an athlete’s overall health.

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Being part of a team enhances self-image.

If you feel good about how you look, it may help you feel good about who you are. Athletes who participate in club sports exhibit improved self-esteem. They also report fewer depressive symptoms, in part because of the positive social interactions that team sports create.

Competition improves endurance.

Routine physical activity is key in building endurance. In turn, endurance builds cardiac strength. Additionally, exercise builds bone density and increases muscle mass — all of which contribute to optimal health.

Team sports increase long-term happiness.

Athletes who play team sports are healthier — and more satisfied with life. One study found that physical activity (specifically playing sports) had a significant influence on the life satisfaction of participants. Part of this may be that being a part of a team gives athletes a sense of belonging. The social interaction produces strong feelings of self-identity, which increase happiness.

Team sports make you smarter.

Athletes often have higher GPAs than non-athletes, and one study found that 97 percent of team athletes graduated from high school — which is 10 percent more than students who did not participate in team sports.

Another study in the journal Nature found a clear distinction between athletic performance and the ability to track multiple objects at the same time. The same skills you need to play a team sport are the same kind needed to drive a car or monitor complex dynamic activities.

“Team sports are a fun way to get in your exercise for cardiovascular health because you get to do it in a group as opposed to doing it alone, plus it’s a great stress reliever, which helps lower your risk for heart disease,” said Helga Van Herle, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a cardiologist at Keck Medicine of USC.

By Heidi Tyline King

Interested in a more active lifestyle? Consult with the specialists at the USC Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Keck Medicine of USC. To learn more, visit ortho.keckmedicine.org. To schedule an appointment, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit http://ortho.keckmedicine.org/patient-information/request-an-appointment/.