The benefits of sport

“What sport do you play?”, has been a standard refrain since the round ball was invented, but have you ever wondered just why kids should play sport? Or why indeed, you’re required to stand on the baseline with other parents, in all weathers, and shout encouragement?

You might say for your children "to get exercise" and you'd be right. To have fun? That's true, too. But there's more. In fact, there are at least five more reasons. 

1. Kids who play sports do better in school. You might think that athletics will take up all their study time. But research shows that kids who play sports do better in school than those who don't. Exercise improves learning, memory, and concentration, which can give active kids an advantage in the classroom.

2. Kids who play sport learn teamwork and goal-setting skills. Sport teaches valuable life skills. When they work with coaches, trainers, and teammates to win games and achieve goals, they're learning how to be successful. Those skills will serve them well at work and in family life.

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3. Sports are good for a kid's health. In addition to being fit and maintaining a healthy weight, kids who play sport are also less likely to smoke. And later in life, kids who exercise are less likely to get osteoporosis.

4. Playing sports boosts self-confidence. Kids who play sport feel better about themselves. Why? It builds confidence when you know you can practice, improve, and achieve your goals. Sport is also a feel-good activity because it helps get in shape, maintain a healthy weight, and make new friends.

5. Exercise cuts the pressure. Playing sport can lessen stress and help them feel a little happier. How? The brain chemicals released during exercise improve a person's mood. Friends are another mood-lifter. And being on a team creates tight bonds between friends. It's good to know their teammates will support them - both on and off the field!

But sport is certainly not just for kids. As we age, in addition to keeping the body strong, regular exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease, blood pressure, stroke, and some cancers, experts say. If keeping the body moving is so good for us, why do so many adults who played sports when they were young stop doing so?

The reasons are varied, but there’s still time to join a club - walking, bowls, tennis or croquet. Off you go now and find a congenial club.