Sports: As Popular Now as They’ve Ever Been
Sports have been a part of human culture practically as long as there have been humans. Cave paintings (some of which have been dated upwards of 15,000 years old) depicting wrestling have been found in both France and Mongolia. There are 4000-year-old Egyptian monuments which depict sports including wrestling, boxing, running, archery, weightlifting, swimming, rowing, and all sorts of ball games. And then there’s what’s come to be known as perhaps the best-loved sports tradition in all the world: the Olympics. Ancient Greeks practically made a religion out of competitive athletics, and the first games at Olympia were held way back in 776 BC. The Olympics continue to embody much of what is good about individual & team sports, competition, dedication, achievement, sportsmanship, and a spirit of comradery among the different nations & cultures of the world.
Of course, not everyone is destined to be a world-class athlete; that’s OK! The benefits of sports participation extend far beyond performance and winning. In fact, kids who play sports can benefit from a number of physical, mental, and social benefits.
Benefits of Sports Activities for Kids
While physical and mental development are two great reasons for kids to get involved in sports, there are plenty of other good reasons and benefits, too. Let’s look a bit closer at some of the many benefits of sports activities for kids, broken down by category:
One of the most obvious benefits of playing a sport is physical, and growing kids need avenues for growing and developing their bodies in healthy ways. With personal electronics taking up so much of children’s (not to mention adults’) time these days, the need for healthy physical activity is perhaps greater now than ever before. Sports can help children with heart development, lung development, and muscle development, but that’s just the start.
Participation in sports leads to an overall increase in both strength and stamina. In addition, sports help children to learn to control their bodies better, in terms of coordination, balance, gross motors skills, and fine motor skills. The exercise afforded by regular sports activities can also help children to maintain a healthier body composition, fight off disease more successfully, and generally enjoy a better quality of life from a physical standpoint.
Regular participation in sports activities is stimulating to the mind of a child, too. Competing in sports requires some level of creativity and strategy, and can help foster an innovative mindset in children. Sports are also internally motivating in terms of helping children to build their levels of personal focus and attention to a task. And because most sports are timed, scored, or measured in some way, sports can help kids to build better math skills in the process, as well.
It has been noted that participation in hyper-competitive sports atmospheres can actually do some damage to the psyche and emotional well-being of certain children, especially those who may not be naturally-gifted athletes. But the sports experience doesn’t have to be like this for kids; much of it comes down to the mentality and approach of the coaches and adults who set the tone for the sporting environment. And there really are many potentially positive emotional benefits which can come from a child being involved in sports activities.
From an emotional sense, one of the best things about physical exercise for people of any age is that it’s a natural mood lifter and stress reducer. Modern children face a whole host of stressors, some of which weren’t even around when their own parents were children. Kids today need a healthy outlet for releasing stress and burning off some steam, and sports participation can be a good avenue for helping to meet that need. Rigorous play and physical activity has been shown to improve mood, relieve stress, and decrease the incidence of depression, among other emotional benefits.
Making friends can sometimes be hard for kids. Participating in sports can be a good way for kids to help build some positive relationships with their peers. Sports participation can teach other valuable lessons about winning & losing, patience, sportsmanship, teamwork, and cooperation. Kids who learn how to take turns, work together, and solve problems as a team become much better prepared to function as healthy adults. Being part of a sports team can help one to feel a sense of belonging too, which is especially helpful for kids who are still working on developing their social skills. In addition, sports participation offers many children the opportunity to learn about leadership and even serve as a team leader at times, which is another incredibly important skill to gain.
But What If Your Child Really Isn’t into Sports?
That’s a fair question. What if your child has tried some different sports, but really didn’t like any of them? Or what if your child simply seems to express no interest in organized sports participation at all? If your child isn’t into team sports, there may be some individual-focused sports activities they might gravitate towards instead. In addition, there are more ways for children to enjoy healthy outdoor physical activity besides just sports.
A Great Outdoor Play Activity That Any Child Can Enjoy: The Playground!
Here’s a sure-fire winner you can try – take your kids to a local playground equipped with some great, commercial-grade play equipment and specially-designed play features. Playgrounds are great places for kids to get some fun exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and hopefully even make some friends in the process. Don’t know of a good playground facility in your immediate area? Then it’s high time to encourage your local park, school, church, or HOA group to let the pros at Carolina Recreation & Design put in a perfect Inclusive playground equipment facility to meet their – and your – needs. Carolina Recreation & Design has many great custom play solutions to offer, and they can take care of everything from site planning, to site preparation, to needed site amenities & furnishings as well. They’d be glad to help!