why sports are good for kids
Sports / Orthopedic

Why Sports are Good for Kids 

May 2 2024

The following piece was written by Tamara Huson, MD, a primary care and family medicine physician in our Cincinnati market.

There are many examples of why sports are good for kids. From shaping their physical health, mental well-being and social skills, sports can be an excellent way to support growth and development.

Engaging in physical activity through sports not only enhances their physical fitness but also cultivates essential life skills and provides psychological benefits. Dr. Tamara Huson from Mercy Health – Loveland Primary Care shares some of the advantages of sports for kids, including the importance of encouraging involvement in athletic pursuits from a young age. 

Improving physical health

Regular sports participation is crucial for improving physical health among children. Physical activity helps kids develop endurance, strength and coordination.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children and adolescents should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily to maintain good health. Encouraging your child to play sports fulfills this recommendation and instills healthy habits that can last a lifetime. 

While you may need to hold off on starting strength training until they get older, age-appropriate cardiovascular exercise is safe for children at any age.

Team sports teach life skills

Team sports offer many opportunities for children to develop important life skills like teamwork, communication and leadership. When kids participate in team sports, they learn to work together towards common goals, understand the importance of cooperation, and develop problem-solving skills by strategizing during games.  

Mental health benefits

Beyond the physical benefits, sports play a significant role in promoting mental health and well-being among kids. Engaging in sports activities can reduce stress, anxiety and depression by providing an outlet for emotional expression and stress relief.

Research suggests that regular physical activity, including sports participation, is associated with improved self-esteem and a lower risk of developing psychological disorders in children.   

How are sports beneficial to kids? 

Sports offer a range of benefits for kids, including improving physical health, developing important life skills such as teamwork and leadership, enhancing mental well-being and fostering social interaction.

Participating in sports also fosters the development of essential social skills and encourages positive social interaction among children. Through team sports, kids learn to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts and build peer relationships. These experiences are invaluable as they prepare children for challenges in academic and professional settings. 

Do sports help kids do better in school? 

Participation in sports has been linked to improved academic performance. It teaches children valuable skills such as time management, discipline and goal setting that are transferable to their academic endeavors. 

Are sports good for kids’ mental health? 

Engaging in sports activities can have positive effects on children’s mental health by reducing stress, anxiety and depression, promoting self-esteem and providing a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

Sports also allow children to set and achieve goals, fostering a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence. Whether it’s mastering a new skill, improving performance, winning a game or learning how to lose but still keep trying, these instill resilience and perseverance in children. 

However, this can be two-fold. Children often model the adults around them, so it’s important for coaches and parents to provide a positive example of good sportsmanship and healthy competition. Kids who develop a negative relationship with sports can find themselves feeling burned out, stressed, inadequate and angry, which negates the positive effects that sports can have on kids.

How do sports impact youth? 

Sports profoundly impact youth by promoting physical fitness, teaching important life skills, fostering social interaction and contributing to overall well-being and development. The camaraderie and sense of belonging experienced within a sports team contribute to a child’s social and emotional development, helping them forge lasting friendships and navigate social dynamics outside of the sporting arena. These experiences teach kids the importance of dedication and hard work, empowering them to strive for success in other areas of their lives. 

What do parents need to know?  

Sports play an important role in the holistic development of children, offering numerous physical, mental and social benefits. The advantages of sports for kids are undeniable, from improving physical fitness and fostering important life skills to promoting mental well-being and encouraging social interaction.

As parents and caregivers, we often recognize the value of youth sports. While there are some pitfalls to avoid, such as focusing on a single sport too early, parents who encourage their children to participate in athletic activities can set them on a positive path for their future. By doing so, we empower them to lead healthy, fulfilling lives and equip them with the tools they need to succeed both on and off the field. 

How we can help

Whether your child is returning to a sport or starting a new one, they are required to get a sports physical each year to ensure they are in good health to play. However, if you have any additional concerns or your child is injured during the season, you can make an appointment with their primary care provider or reach out to a sports medicine specialist.

Learn more about the primary care and sports medicine services we provide at Mercy Health.

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