Many kids participate in sports, whether it's Little League Baseball, Pee Wee Football or classes in martial arts or gymnastics at a local recreation center. Many kids choose to play sports for fun, of course, but sports have many positive effects on children who participate in them. Younger children typically have more fun with sports when played in a friendly manner, without too much competition or pressure to win.
Positive Effects on Physical Health
Children who participate in physical activities such as sports experience positive health benefits, including decreased risks of high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer, according to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. The President's Council recommends at least one hour of physical activity for children daily. According to an article published by the University of Florida, children who participate in sports are also less likely to smoke or to use drugs and alcohol than children who don't participate in sports. Teenage girls who participate in sports are less likely to become pregnant than girls who don't participate in sports.
Positive Effects on Mood and Mental Health
Children who participate in sports experience positive effects on their mental health, as well. Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins in the brain, chemicals that boost mood and help prevent and relieve depression, according to the Mayo Clinic. In fact, the University of Florida reports that kids who participate in sports are less likely to develop depression than kids who don't participate. Physical activity also relieves anxiety.
Positive Effects on Self-Esteem
The University of Florida reports that participation in sports helps children develop self-esteem and that girls who participate in sports develop increased confidence and have a healthier body image than girls who don't participate in sports. Improved self-esteem and self-confidence also help improve mood and mental health.
Positive Social Effects
Kids who participate in sports earn better grades in school and develop better social skills, according to the University of Florida. Participating in sports provides opportunities for children to develop friendships, to learn to lose and win gracefully, to practice taking turns, to take on leadership roles, to learn to follow rules and to practice managing conflict. The social interaction experienced while participating in sports also improves mood and mental health. Although these developments are beneficial to all children, the Special Education Advisor website points out that they may be even more beneficial to kids with special needs.