As if there weren’t already many good reasons for kids to play sports, I’ve just found some more. A report put out by TrueSport.org claims that in addition to the physical benefits, sports provide emotional, psychological and social benefits.
Here are some highlights from that report:
• Research shows that physical activity slows down the development of chronic diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis because sport participation strengthens the heart, muscles and bones and lessens stress.
• Childhood and youth obesity has doubled over the past 25 years and affects one-third of all children by third grade. Sports and physical activity play an important part in helping children maintain a healthy weight. Bottom line, it gets your kids off the couch.
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• Although statistics indicate adolescence is a time when physical activity and team sport participation decline, studies show that children who play sports at an early age are more likely to stay active as teens and adults.
• Playing sports also has a positive effect on emotional, social and psychological development. Children who play sports show improved academic achievement, higher self-esteem, fewer behavioral problems and healthier psychological adjustment. This is because physical movement affects the brain’s physiology. In other words, playing sports is good for the body and the brain.
• This next reason is why recess is so important for kids in school: When kids burn off energy outside the classroom, they have a higher attention span in the classroom. Their physical exertion helps them to relax better short-term, gives them greater creativity and improves their problem-solving abilities. Physical exertion leads to short-term relaxation, enhanced creativity and memory, better mood and improved problem-solving abilities.
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• Kids who play sports have higher grades in school and complete more years of education.
• Sports can teach young athletes to control emotions and show initiative, two traits which transfer to other areas of life: school, family and eventually a job.
• Studies show that girls who play sports gain confidence and self-esteem and are less likely to be overweight and depressed, to smoke, use illegal drugs or have teen pregnancies.
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Never mind your dreams for a bright athletic future for your child, the benefits of playing sports in a positive, growing environment are huge even if your child never gets a full ride scholarship or plays in college. Organized or haphazard, competitive or recreational, get your kids moving and playing something. It will shape their lives for the better.