The Health Benefits of Participating in Sports as a Kid

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At some point during the school year, many kids participate in sports of some sort. And, while many children won’t grow up to be professional sports players, participating in sports now will help with the development of both their minds and bodies.

Youth sports isn’t just important for getting exercise, it also promotes psychological and mental advances too. Most people already know kids who are participating in sports have fewer chances of dropping out of school and getting involved in alcohol or drug activity. They also do better socially and in their academic performance. Below are some more benefits of participating in sports as a kid.

1. Enhances Physical Development

Kids involved in sports develop stronger bones and muscles. And, the stronger the child is, the less chances they’ll end up with a physical injury. In fact, one 2006 study showed those active in physical exercise before and during puberty reached maximum bone mass which helped them develop stronger bones and muscles to support growth in the future.

2. Develops Self-Esteem

Being involved in sports also helps develop a child’s confidence and self-esteem. Different gestures after a sports game alone can help build confidence such as:

  • A handshake
  • A pat on the back
  • A high-five from another player

When other players or the coach encourages or praises a child, it helps build up their self-esteem. It pushes them to perform better and trust their own abilities.

3. Promotes Weight Loss

According to the American Heart Association, around one in three children are obese or overweight and it typically is a result of lack of exercise and a poor diet. When a child is overweight, their risk of being overweight as an adult increases and this increases their risk of health problems such as:

  • Heart attack
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor cholesterol

Perform aerobic exercises regularly can increase your body’s “good” cholesterol or high-density lipoproteins. Hypertension (high blood pressure) may lead to stroke, heart disease and kidney failure. Losing weight reduces high blood pressure; therefore, encouraging your child to burn calories through sports can address this problem.

4. Promotes a Healthy Heart

Physical activity is good for the heart. It helps it pump more blood during heartbeats and makes it stronger. During intense exercise, the heart pumps blood at a much faster rate.

5. Benefits Mental Health

As your child becomes more physically fit, they’ll have increased energy. Their levels of stress and fatigue will go down. Sports increases their focus and concentration, boosts their self-esteem and improves their study performance.

6. Builds Character

When children begin playing sports at a younger age, it helps them engage in social interactions and build essential skills like responsibility, teamwork and leadership while teaching them how to work together with others as you’re achieving a common goal. Kids can develop and practice various moral and mental qualities they gain from school, home and on the field.

7. Helps to Learn Sportsmanship

By being involved in sports, children learn sportsmanship. They’ll learn to accept their losses and cope with them instead of feeling totally defeated. Some win, some lose, but nobody can win them all. Sports teaches your child it’s okay to lose as long as they pick themselves back up and get back to the game.

Other benefits include:

  • Learning motor skills
  • Less chances of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Learn Life skills
  • Reduces depression and stress
  • Gain Leadership skills
  • Prevents alcohol and drug use
  • A sense of belonging
  • Academic success

When it comes to kids playing sports, you need to ensure they’re participating at the correct rate. Both coaches and parents are responsible for this. You need to ensure your child isn’t overdoing it. Coaches need to set realistic expectations since not all children are built the same. What may be good for one child isn’t necessarily good for another.

The subject of encouragement is another factor you need to consider. A lot of coaches and parents don’t realize what type of impact they have on the perception a child has of a sports activity.  If a coach has a negative attitude towards a child, it can result in the child wanting to drop out of sports altogether — leading to a lifelong grudge against exercise and sports.

Remember, you’re your child’s role model. If your child sees you being active, they’ll be more inclined to be active themselves. Setting good examples is key. While you don’t have to necessarily go out and sign up in sports yourself, you could play a little sports activity on the weekends with your child. Some friendly, family competition can be motivating and fun for your child.

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