If you’re new to an area, or have recently decided to get more active, why not take a look at the community sports available locally?
Many towns, villages, charities and schools offer local people the chance to get involved in a wide range of activities, from walking to water polo. And whatever you choose, if you take the community route you can be sure you’ll be meeting a great mix of like-minded local people.
What could be better – a new way to get active, combined with a way to make new friends!
What’s different about community sports?
Community sports groups vary enormously from place to place but tend to have one thing in common – a desire to transform lives with sport.
Some groups focus on helping elderly people keep fit and active. Some give disadvantaged young people a way of building confidence and finding an alternative to crime and anti-social behaviour. Others are helping children who’ve recently arrived in an area to build connections by sharing their love of sport. Many are run by people who love their sport and want to help more people to enjoy it.
That doesn't mean that these groups have low standards. There are community sports groups linked to professional football clubs who are cultivating the talents of the next generation of soccer stars. And fundraising 10k runs (organised by community charities) that feature amongst the best (or should that be toughest) of the year. 
What’s the benefit?
At a time when many medical experts are advocating preventative medicine, regular exercise is recognised as good for almost everyone, for long-term health and protection against disease. 
On top of that, the great thing about getting into community sport is that, whatever your talent and whatever your level of involvement, you become an active part of your community. 
There are tales of people who’ve lived in an area for decades, join the local walking group or netball team and become part of a network of friends in a way they’ve never previously experienced. Many people start as participants but soon become more involved – marshalling races, serving refreshments or even coaching teams.
Contributing to a sporting network like this help these groups thrive and nurtures strong community spirit.
How community sports can contribute to happiness
Psychologists who study happiness have identified some common behaviours of happy people. Participating in community sport can help us improve our happiness because we’re:
1. Building relationships – happier people have one or more close friendships where they do activities together and share feelings.
2. Caring and helping – happier people are frequently involved in regular volunteering or caring for others.
3. Exercising – happier people exercise regularly. The Cochrane Review (the most influential medical review of its kind in the world) concluded that conclusion was that exercise had a “large clinical impact” on improving mental wellbeing and lowering rates of depression. 
4. Experiencing flow – happier people often enjoy activities which are challenging, absorbing and goal-focused, all of which help them get into the joyful, out-of-time state known as “Flow”.
Health, happiness and connectedness – three great reasons to pop into your library, local sports centre or council to find out what’s happening near you.