Sports are a fun and healthy way to keep children busy. But exposing children to sports at a young age can also have incredible benefits for their overall development.
Sport has brought camaraderie, unity and happiness to humans for centuries, with benefits to all, both young and old. But the contribution it has to the mental and physical development of children could be seen as its greatest outcome.
Here are five reasons why sports are important for the growth of children.
1) Staying active can promote good health
Research in the medical field has shown that living an active lifestyle from a young age could decrease the chances of contracting serious medical conditions including diabetes, obesity, weak bones and problems with blood pressure later on in life.
2) Exercise can help relieve stress
Much like adults, children are also at risk of experiencing high levels of stress. If this childhood stress is mismanaged, they could develop anxiety disorders.
Exercise activates parts of the brain that have been said to help in the prevention of stress and anxiety through the release of feel-good chemicals. These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters and include endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.
Neurotransmitters are vital in regulating moods and are released when you participate in physical activity. So, when children are keeping active, they are effectively managing their levels of stress without even realising it.
3) Team sports keep kids occupied
Another benefit of sports, especially in the lives of those children who come from vulnerable communities and backgrounds, is the stability it creates.
Sport gives children something productive to do. Along with the benefits already explored, it can be an effective tool for keeping children engaged in character-building activities. History has shown that, with too much free time, children can be particularly vulnerable to acquiring bad habits.
4) Physical activities can improve academic performance
Participating in sports programs has been said to have a strong link to improved academic performance and overall cognitive development over time when started at a young age.
Studies have shown better test scores, more positive attitudes, as well as improved classroom manners and attention spans in children who participate in sports from a young age.
5) Periods of play can contribute to character development
The skills learned during play and physical activity can contribute greatly to the overall development of a child.
Key interpersonal characteristics and values acquired through playing sports include honesty, teamwork, valuing hard work, as well as respect for others and rules.
The competitive aspect of sports can also help to teach children how to handle both winning and losing with maturity.
Why volunteer in sports programs?
Children playing sport has overwhelmingly positive results on both their mental and physical well-being. This aligns well with the goals we support at GVI.
We understand that sport is important for the overall development of children. Because of this, our aim is to increase children’s access to sports, so that they can be happier and healthier.
Megan Colborne is an intern at the GVI Writing Academy. The Writing Academy is a skills-development program that pairs development editors with budding travel writers. Learn more about the program here.