Explaining the importance of staying active to the families and coaches of young athletes is like preaching to the choir.
With the obesity rate in the U.S. continuing to climb, participating in organized sports is more important than ever to keep the youth of America at a healthy body weight.
But what many active families might not realize is that there are many hidden benefits received by young athletes as a result of their participation in sport.
1. Develop Social Skills
Exercising together offers children an opportunity to socialize. In a study published in 2009, high school students playing organized sports viewed their practices as an opportunity to meet other young people with shared interests. Not only do young athletes build relationships amongst themselves, youth sports can also encourage players to interact with adult figures like parents and coaches. The study also suggests that youth sports can encourage children to build stronger relationships with their teachers.
2. Improve Concentration
Research has shown that exercise can improve concentration in children, having a direct effect on their academic achievement. One particular study concluded that after 30 minutes on a treadmill, students were able to solve problems up to 10 percent more effectively. With physical education classes slowly declining in schools across the U.S., extracurricular physical activities are becoming more important than ever to improve a child’s brain function.
3. Mood Booster
Exercising causes the body to release chemical endorphins, which work to reduce the perception of pain and help the body relax. These chemicals act as natural mood boosters that increase feelings of happiness and optimism. As the body generates more endorphins through exercise, it simultaneously reduces anxiety and stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol.
4. Sleep More Soundly
Stimulating the body throughout the day will in turn make falling asleep easier and the length of sleep longer. Exercising regularly and participating in an organized sport can improve the quality of sleep and can regulate the transition between sleep cycles.
5. Higher Self-Esteem
Positive experiences in sports can help to increase a player’s self-esteem and self image. Being surrounded by a supportive community of coaches, families, and teammates can create an environment that bolsters an athlete’s self-esteem and celebrates their skills. Higher self-esteem can lead to reduced anxiety, fewer interpersonal problems, a better body image, and a lower chance of participating in risky behaviors.
Youth sports are so much more than a way to keep a healthy weight! Let us know what other interesting benefits you think are worth sharing in the comments section below!