Remember what it felt like as a kid to join a neighborhood team in an empty lot, street, or park field for a quick game of football or soft ball? We mostly played for fun. We didn’t realize all the benefits we were getting from those games.
Athletic participation provides countless rewards for youth. Research at the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University found that young people who play sports actually do better in school and have enhanced social skills. Playing a sport can help prevent drug and alcohol abuse, and children participating in sports are less likely to start smoking, and if they do smoke, are more likely to quit.
Research on the benefits of sports and exercise for girls in particular has been particularly optimistic. The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports reports that athletically active girls develop increased self-esteem, confidence, and have a healthier body image than girls who don’t take part in sports. They are also more likely to finish high school and college. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, girls who participate in sports are less likely to become pregnant as teenagers and are less likely to suffer from depression. There is also evidence that athletic activity can decrease the likelihood of developing breast cancer and osteoporosis.
Other benefits to participating in organized sports simply can’t be measured. Sports allow children to assume leadership roles, handle conflict and manage their time. Youth can also learn to bond with new friends and teammates, and improve relationships with adults.
As kids, it turns out, we had it right all along. There were good reasons to get out and play.
Listening, learning and living together, it’s the science of life. “Family Album” is a co-production of the University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences and of WUFT-FM. If you’d like to learn more, please visit our website at familyalbumradio.com.
Written by: Diana Converse
Reviewed by: Suzanna Smith
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