07/03/2013 05:21 pm ET Updated Sep 02, 2013

Sports and Brain Power: How and Why to Get Back in the Game

For Women & Co., by Heather Spohr

One of the things I loved most about being a kid was learning how to play as many sports as I wanted. Looking back, there was always a team to join, a sports camp to attend, and someone's mom handing out orange slices. As adults, we tend to think of those good times as a thing of the past, but it may benefit you at work to get back in the swing of things with that softball bat or golf club. After all, the skills you need on the field or the course are the same ones you need on the job: collaborating with teammates, listening to them, and trusting them. And research is beginning to show that keeping muscles active may even boost brainpower. A study on mice given medication that simulated the effects of exercise "performed significantly better on tests of memory and learning" than their quiet counterparts.

The commitment to exercise also reflects discipline, whether it's on your solo runs at 6 a.m. or the company's Tuesday evening baseball game. No wonder people proudly include a list of marathon races or sports tournaments on LinkedIn profiles; it says to the reader: "I set a high goal for myself, and I was able to reach it."

The easiest sports to learn are the ones adults are best known for playing recreationally, like golf and tennis. To start, take some lessons from a pro at your local golf course, driving range, or tennis center, and consider asking for a package rate -- it will save you money in the long run. Once you feel like you're getting the hang of things, ask your instructor to put you in touch with another beginner to join you on the links (start with a par-3 course) or challenge you in your first tennis match. You'll be on your way in no time!

Join a Team

Interested in learning a team sport? Check out your local YMCA and its "Active For Life" program, which offers a wide variety of adult team sports including, but not limited to, basketball, soccer, hockey, and volleyball. The Y's leagues have teams for every skill level and welcome people who "are new to team sports" or want to "start fresh with a sport you love."

Find a Class

Many other organizations give adults the chance to learn a new sport; do a search for your area. For example, in Washington, the indoor sports facility Arena Sports has seven locations that teach adults soccer. It has clinics and classes to get you started, plus a number of leagues including one for "beginners or those with little or no soccer playing experience." There are many more organizations like this; you just have to do a little surfing around the web to find the one that's right for you. A good place to start your search is the women's sports section of, which compiles information about recreational sports groups nationwide.

Jump & Tumble

Have a dream of playing a sport that's off the beaten path? Satisfy your inner Mary Lou Retton by learning gymnastics. The Field House at Chelsea Piers in New York City boasts the largest adult gymnastics program in the world and offers beginner classes at a facility that has "state-of-the-art gymnastics equipment including all Olympic men's and women's events, in-ground trampolines, and foam-filled safety pits." Similar adult gymnastics programs can be found nationwide, so check it out to start tumbling.

Lace up Your Skates

One of the sports farthest off the beaten path is roller derby, which was made famous in the '70s by tough-as-nails women on roller skates known by awesome names like Babe Ruthless. In Los Angeles, you can take part in the LA Derby Dolls Roller Derby Fitness class "Skills For Thrills," an eight-week session for beginners that teaches both skating and game strategy.

And, if you aren't the sporting type, being a spectator could still benefit your career. Attending sporting events with colleagues is a great way to build camaraderie, or the events can be used as venues for networking. One way you can get access to purchase tickets to sporting events in your area is through Citi® Private Pass® available for eligible Citi cardmembers.

Women & Co., a service of Citi, is the go-to personal finance source for women. By providing financial content, commentary and community, Women & Co.'s mission is to get women thinking and talking about personal finance. Founded in 2000, Women & Co. is one of the longest running personal finance websites dedicated to helping women strengthen their financial futures.