It is common wisdom that prevention is better than a cure. We see this most keenly in regards to our physical and mental health – where taking simple actions such as walking regularly and eating well, can sustain and enhance our overall well-being. However, work and study, social commitments, screen time, and urban living often present stumbling blocks in the way of people achieving their fitness goals.
Children face similar barriers, which have been compounded by the recent closure of schools and sports programmes. Young people, now more than ever, face daunting obstacles in becoming active and happy. Regular participation in sports is one easy way of putting children back on track to a healthy lifestyle; sport can create the foundation for lifelong good habits and success – active children become active adults.
Sports are an easy way for young people to stay fit – studies show that children who engage in sixty minutes of activity a day are at a reduced risk of becoming obese later in life. Taking up a sport can increase a child’s overall energy levels and improve cardiovascular fitness. Play and sports are crucial in the healthy growth of bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and aid the development of coordination and balance.
The importance of getting outdoors onto a court, field, or track cannot be understated – it means kids get less time sitting in front of a screen, and more sunshine and socialising. This combination can be a near magic remedy in terms of reducing depression and anxiety in children. If children boost their overall activity they can significantly reduce cortisol levels, this means less stress and sharper mental focus. Sound mental health is crucial when children are at a stage where they face huge pressures academically and socially.
Team sports such as soccer, hockey, and netball require the development of many personal skills, such as leadership and cooperation. These skills are not only necessary to hone on the playing field, but they are also essential for children as they navigate school life and later, the challenges of adulthood. A key outcome of taking part in sport is the confidence it inspires: mastering a sport gives a child the chance to build self-esteem based on real accomplishment.
Children who play a sport become part of unique cultures and communities. Bonds forged through long hours of dedication to a single purpose may last a lifetime. A spot on a team can provide children with a sense of belonging, that they may struggle to find outside of the home. Sport gives young people a great opportunity to socialise and have fun with their peers in a safe and constructive environment. Competitions and events are a fantastic way to meet new people from different backgrounds.
A passion for sport may be the beginning of a healthy lifestyle, but it is also a pathway to success later in life for children. Young people can translate their love of a sport into a university scholarship, overseas tournaments or even becoming professional sports people, and coaches. Playing a sport might lead indirectly to novel career opportunities through networking, finding a niche in the sporting industry, or creating a business that caters to other sports enthusiasts.