There are a host of physical, educational, emotional and mental health benefits for children who participate in sports, and many of these benefits will last well into adulthood. Here’s what you need to know about the 11 benefits of sports for kids.
- Sports improves physical health, balance and coordination: Children who participate in team sports — especially sports that include running, such as baseball, softball, basketball and soccer — tend to have increased cardiovascular fitness. This means stronger heart function, lower body fat, greater muscle mass and stronger bones. Furthermore, these activities establish a foundation for healthy lifestyles in the future.
- Vitamin D grows strong bones: Kids are growing more during their childhood years than they will ever grow again. In order to produce strong, healthy bones, their bodies require vitamin D, which is produced by exposure to sunlight. (Be certain that children playing team sports outdoors in the summer wear sunscreen.)
Emotional and Mental Health Benefits
- Playing together increases social bonds: Playing sports gives youngsters regular, scheduled opportunities to interact with their peers. In addition to helping kids make friends and build relationships, sports activities can help counteract social isolation, loneliness and depression.
- Being outside fights depression: Exposure to sunlight boosts the production of serotonin, which helps fight depression. During the short days of winter, explore the possibilities of outdoor sports such as skiing, ice-skating or even basketball if an outdoor court has been cleared of snow and ice.
- Being successful improves overall mental health: When people accomplish a task or goal, our brains release dopamine, the reward chemical. These successes don’t even need to be major championship wins to boost our mood. They can include making a great catch, helping a teammate score a goal or running one’s personal best time.
- Teamwork improves classroom skills: Cognitive development is vital for children. With team sports, children need to listen and comprehend what the coaches are saying (audio input) or diagramming on a whiteboard (visual input). Combining these skills can set the stage for improved cognition and better grades in the classroom.
- Sports improves communication and leadership skills: Children on teams often need to comprehend their coaches’ instructions and then convey that information to their teammates. This might include providing different types of information to different players. Adults with excellent leadership and communication skills are often in high demand by employers.
- Competition strengthens respect and encourages sportsmanship: Ask anyone who has had the privilege of being on an excellent team how they feel when they encounter an equally strong opponent. They will probably tell you that they respect the opposing team because they are familiar with the sacrifices and determination it took to be successful themselves.
- Losing builds empathy: Anyone who has ever participated in a championship game. Only to lose to a better opponent knows quite a bit about disappointment. This ability to empathize with someone experiencing a letdown will be appreciated in the future by the players’ kids, as well as their spouses and co-workers.
- Losing can lead to improved problem solving: Many experts in a host of fields say that failure is the greatest teacher. That’s because failing can teach problem-solving skills, which all professionals need at some point in their careers.
- Playing increases teamwork and cooperation skills: No matter how extraordinary one player might be at a particular team sport, it is physically impossible for a single player to win a game by herself or himself. Winning can only be accomplished as a team. Such will be the situation when a youngster becomes an adult and works in a professional environment. Accomplishments in all business settings require cooperation from every employee in every department. No one can do it alone.
Youngsters who participate in team and individual sports not only receive the physical exercise that their bodies need, but they also get a head start on the emotional, mental and professional skills. These are great skills to have when they are adults.
Author bio: Axio Athletic is a leading sporting goods dealer offering custom team uniforms, high quality equipment and accessories. Its mission is to provide teams and athletes with the very best sporting apparel and equipment at the lowest cost.