The health benefits of youth sports are obvious, but did you know how far-reaching and deep-rooted some of them are? Kids who get a chance to participate in youth sports benefit from the experience for years to come, sometimes for the rest of their lives. While the benefits are myriad, here are the top 4 that can really make a longterm difference in the life of a child.
1. Weight Control & Physical Development
Children these days often have poor diets, especially kids from underprivileged households: processed and packaged foods that are high in fats and sugars and fast food that’s lacking in nutrition with super-sized portions. While this is a problem all on its own, participation in youth sports can at least treat the symptom if not the disease, so to speak. Physical exercise can help counteract a poor diet and control weight, which in turns helps to reduce the risk of health complications later in life.
Not only is there the immediate benefit of weight loss to take into account, but sports also aid in physical development during the crucial years of puberty. Multiple studies across the years have all shown a positive correlation between sports participation and an increased resistance to physical injury, stronger muscles and bones, and better future physical development to adults who pursued athletics as children and teenagers.
2. Endurance & Perseverance
It’s no surprise that physical activity, like the kind that youth sports provide, helps to build cardiovascular endurance. Which is a pretty big deal. Heart disease tops the list of killer diseases in the United States, so improving heart health is just about the most important thing you can do for yourself health-wise. Besides the physical angle, there’s also mental perseverance. A match, no matter the sport, is a quick series of adverse situations, one after the other. It’s training kids to handle high-stress , rapid-fire scenarios in a safe, constructive, and low-stakes environment. Perseverance is crucial for coping with higher-stake situations later in life, as well as critical thinking and problem solving.
3. Stress Management
Underprivileged youth often have multiple sources of stress to contend with on a daily basis. Stress is often what drives them to make bad decisions, so any method that can help them to cope with stress is invaluable. Sports can create stressful situations, but these situations are structured within the game itself and are swiftly resolved by the end of the match. By putting kids into sports, it helps them to view the other challenges in life in such a way that they are able to segment and partition causes of stress into manageable bits. Each challenge becomes a hurdle to overcome instead of an insurmountable wall in their path.
4. Social Development
Sports teach children more than how to play a game. Sports participation helps children develop social skills that they may not be learning at home, and they can carry those lessons with them throughout life. Kids who play sports learn to interact with others, how to respect authority figures (such as coaches and sports officials), team-building skills, leadership skills and a clearer understanding of winning and losing (and how to cope with losses). The skills learned through sports can help kids with personal relationships and careers later in life.