Health Benefits for Children Who Play Sports
When it comes to kids and activity, research shows that many young children are either obtaining too much or too little. Too much physical activity leads to burnouts and injuries, while too little leads to numerous physical conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. To balance this properly, parents and coaches must be diligent, yet considerate, when it comes to children and sports.
According to the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University, sports activities for children not only offer health benefits, but also offer psychological and social benefits. Paul Caccamo, a Harvard graduate, explains that “sports are more than a game; they are a set of life lessons. Kids growing up without them are really disadvantaged.”
Health Benefits of Youth Sports
- Staying physically fit. Kids who play sports are more likely to be fit and in shape.
- Learning motor skills. Dribbling a ball or running drills teaches valuable motor skills.
- Less likely to be overweight. Children who are physically active typically remain at normal weights throughout their childhood and into adulthood.
- Less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes is caused by a lack of activity.
- Kids who play sports are more likely to exercise as adults. The habit of physical exercise is more likely to carry over to adults who played sports as children.
- Life skills. Numerous life skills are taught, including time management and understanding that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.
- Reduces stress and depression. Statistics show that students who are in sports activities are less likely to suffer from these two things.
- Leadership skills. These skills are learned through many activities and will carry on through adulthood.
- Drug and alcohol abuse prevention. Kids involved in sports are less likely to begin smoking.
- A sense of belonging. This can actually increase children’s self-esteem and confidence.
- Academic success. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, children who play sports in high school are more likely to be academically successful. They are more likely to graduate high school and more likely to attend college.
One key factor for children and sports is ensuring that they participate at a proper rate. Parents and coaches hold most of the responsibility with this, and there is a fine line. To ensure that kids are not overdoing it, parents and coaches must keep their expectations realistic. This must be done on an individual basis. What is good for one child may be too much or too little for another. This is where a coach or parent must be able to judge each situation uniquely.
Another factor comes into play with the subject of encouragement. Many parents and coaches do not realize the impact they have on a child’s perception of a sport activity. A bad attitude from a coach can turn a child off, causing him to drop out of sports. This may lead to a lifelong grudge against athletics and exercise.