3 out of 4 Americans have played a sport as a child.
And so, as adults, it is important to let our own children indulge in some physical activity as well. Not only do sports make physical activity more fun, but there is also a wide range of benefits of playing sports that make them a worthy hobby for you and your kids to partake in.
1. A Good Night’s Sleep
It is hard to oversell the importance of a good night’s sleep. Not only does it help our bodies heal and rejuvenate after a long day, but it also helps boost metabolism and mental health.
Playing a sport, or engaging in similar physical activity is a great way to trigger certain hormones or chemicals in your brain that promote better, deeper sleep. This is especially true for outdoor sports, which in addition to physical activity also allows your child sufficient fresh air and sunlight – both of which allow for better sleep.
2. Improved Cardiovascular Health
The heart is the largest, and perhaps the most important muscle in your body. But for it to function optimally it needs to be frequently exercised. One of the best ways for you or your child to do this is to engage in at least 30-40 minutes of vigorous physical activity every day.
It is especially beneficial for young children to make this a habit to prevent problems later on in their lives. Sports create a wonderfully fun way for young children to give their hearts the exercise they need, without it seeming like a chore.
3. Breathe Better
Consistent activity has the ability to improve your lungs, and consequently the quality of your breathing. If your child suffers from asthma or has other special needs, this concept of vigorous physical activity might be scary, but there are plenty of low effort or low impact sports for asthma patients to participate in while receiving the same benefits of a high impact sport.
4. The Ultimate Stress Buster
Most adults don’t think it, but there’s a lot to be anxious about when you’re a young child. School can be overwhelming, making friends can be difficult, and sometimes you feel like the whole world is against you. For many children, sports can be a great way to vent out your frustrations, expel some nervous energy and distract yourself from your anxious thoughts.
Getting lost in a sport is a fantastic way of escaping a less than exceptional reality.
5. Stronger Bones
Physically engaging sports are a great way to prevent diseases like osteoporosis. Running, jumping or simply moving, help make your bones stronger and denser. It keeps your joints in action and helps young children lead a fitter, healthier lifestyle.
6. Collaboration & Independence
Sports generally have two variants – team and individual. When you play a team sport it teaches you teamwork, collaboration, selflessness, and responsibility. When you play an individual sport it teaches you independence and determination.
But no matter what sport you’re child is playing, you can rest assured that they will know far more about sportsmanship than they did before. And this is a remarkable quality for them to have.
7. Discipline and Will Power
Going off the previous point, qualities like determination will power and grit. These are the kind of virtues you carry along with you to the end of your life. And aren’t these the kind of things we want our kids to learn?
Unfortunately, the system is rarely designed in a way that teaches these skills at a young age, that’s why encouraging your children to participate in sporting activities is an especially good way to inculcate these qualities from a young age.
8. Better Mental Health
No matter how good someone’s emotional well-being is, the truth is it could always be better. Whether your child has clinically diagnosed depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or is simply prone to those all too human bouts of sadness, he or she can definitely benefit from sports.
There have been numerous studies that have shown time and time again that sports and physical activity are great stimulants of dopamine and all those “feel-good” chemicals inside our bodies. They help us feel more energized, optimistic and can be great for our self-esteem as well.
So encourage your child to participate in school sports or enroll them in a sports camp.
9. Playing Is More Important Than Winning (and Other Life Lessons)
Sports have an uncanny way of representing daily life. For young children, this can be a great way to prepare for some of the joys and lessons that come with life. You learn to appreciate the journey, you learn that hard work pays off, but that you learn that you can’t always win and then you learn that perhaps, winning isn’t what’s most important after all.
The Benefits of Playing Sports Move Beyond Physical and Mental Health
The benefits of playing sports are not limited to physical or mental wellness. In fact, they can benefit your child’s career and academic development as well. Sports encapsulate a whole number of life and social skills that make for a well-rounded individual.
So, if you’re considering entering your child into a sport (or more), you’re making a fantastic call.
If you’re on the fence about choosing a sport, remember that experimentation is the key to success. You can also try enrolling your child in a sports camp that allows your child to try a variety of sports in a safe environment.
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