Sports can help kids stay fit and learn teamwork. Now research shows participating in an organized sport can also benefit a child’s mental health.
You might just see a kid kicking a ball, but a new study shows children who participate in a sport are doing more than meets the eye. They’re protecting their mental health. Scientists in Canada examined nearly 15,000 kids. They found that those who played sports between ages six and ten had fewer emotional difficulties at age 12. Consistently participating in an organized physical activity was associated with less anxiety, shyness, emotional distress, and less social withdrawal at school.
Organized sports can also help kids stay healthy. Physically active children are 15 percent more likely to go to college and less apt to smoke, use drugs, or participate in risky sexual behavior. They also have a reduced chance of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. So, encourage your child to try a sport. It could help them both physically and emotionally.
Cost is often a barrier to getting children, especially in low-income areas, to participate in sports. In 2015, about one in three parents from households making less than $50,000 a year told researchers that sports cost too much. Some community sports programs offer scholarships for families who can’t afford to participate. So, parents should ask if financial assistance is available.
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