Sports Health Facts
Sports provide physical activity, a way to channel energy, a fun experience and an opportunity to compete. All of those things help to develop many skills and characteristics that carry throughout your life.
Merriam-Webster defines sports as a source of recreation involving physical activity for pleasure 1. In a traditional sense, sports are thought of as team organizations that compete against other teams, but a sport encompasses more than just team sports and competitions. Anyone can participate in a sport without being a part of a team or competing. Team sports include football, basketball and soccer. Individual sports include horse back riding, running or mountain climbing. The benefits of participating in either team sports and individual sports are shared.
When to Start Playing
While it is healthy to have your child participate in a sport league, it may be beneficial to keep it light on the competition until about age eight to 10. While your child may exhibit skills in a certain sport, their overall motor and emotional development may not be fully prepared for competitive sports until a bit later.
The American College of Sports Medicine reported child development milestones in its ACSM Fit Society publication 2. It stated kids aged six to seven just begin to be able to track moving objects, at seven to eight years old they gain better posture and balance allowing them to develop throwing and kicking skills. It’s not until age 10 to 12 that they develop the memory and attention to strategy and can play as an effective team player.
Playing sports is physically beneficially to your body because it burns calories and builds muscles. Participating in calorie burning activities helps to keep excess weight off of your body. Maintaining a healthy weight will help prevent obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. The added muscle growth from participating in sports helps to keep your bones and metabolism healthy. It also makes everyday activities easier because you are stronger.
Sports provide a lot more than added muscle and burned calories. Adults and kids who participate in sports reap the benefits of natural endorphins that are released during exercise. According to Teens Health, exercise helps you feel happy, sleep better, combat depression and low self-esteem as well as instill as sense of pride and accomplishment 4. Studies also show that participating in sports can help kids do better in school because exercise improves memory and concentration.
All sports are not created equally. While all sports offer a major health benefit, all also pose minor health risks with some posing more serious risks. Medline Plus a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of health list the most common sports injuries to include:
- knee injuries
- shin injuries
- muscle swelling 3
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