The fitness benefits of softball

Rebecca Sutcliffe and Katie Reynolds tell us why we should take up softball

The fitness benefits of softball

Source: Best Health magazine, Summer 2014

Softball games are a family affair for Winnipeg residents Rebecca Sutcliffe and Katie Reynolds’the two sisters-in-law also count Rebecca’s husband Dan, Katie’s husband (Rebecca’s brother) Chris, and four cousins as teammates. Other family members cheer from the sidelines while the kids, including Rebecca’s four-year-old daughter Jordyn, play and run bases before and after games.

‘Rebecca and I have a great time playing,’ says 29-year-old Katie, a nurse. ‘Being strong female players in a coed league has brought us together’it’s very satisfying to surprise male outfielders on other teams who move in when we come up to bat!’ Both women have been playing ball since they were kids, but have been playing together on this recreational team, Sluggers, for three years (Katie on third base and Rebecca on second). ‘It’s fun to hang out with family, enjoying the weather and some competition,’ says Rebecca, 31, an elementary school teacher.

The team plays two games weekly from May to the end of August, as well as three weekend tournaments. While it isn’t a super-intense workout, each game can be up to two hours of play, which includes hitting and catching the ball, and short bursts of running. Softball promotes agility, coordination and strength. A 135-lb. woman burns about 230 calories in an hour of play.

The social side of the game is important, too. ‘I think socializing plays a huge role in overall health,’ says Katie. ‘I’ve developed many lasting friendships while playing softball, and have gotten to know my husband’s extended family.’

Baseball vs. softball The two games are very similar. The main differences are that in softball, the pitcher throws underhand and doesn’t throw from a pitching mound; the distance between bases is shorter; the outfield is smaller; and the ball is bigger. Rec softball leagues tend to be slow-pitch (the pitches are, literally, slower); competitive softball leagues can also be fast-pitch (also known as fastball).

Get in the game Find a league at Softball Canada, or do an online search for your city. If you’re a beginner, ask a friend to show you the basics. Batting and throwing take lots of practice.

Beat the heat To prevent heat exhaustion, wear a hat and seek out shade when not on the field. And, of course, drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

This article was originally titled "Batter up!" in the Summer 2014 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!