Extra-curricular activities can keep kids (and their loved ones) pretty busy during the school year. With participation in clubs, organizations and volunteering duties, the school year can become a blur. Adding sports into the equation requires an extra helping of commitment and sacrifice.

Many kids, around 45 million to be exact, participate in some sort of athletic activity. With all of the time they spend in practice and competition on a weekly basis (around twenty hours per week for high school students) parents and caregivers may lose sight of the benefits of this major commitment. Here are some of the physical and mental benefits of your young person participating in sports:

  • They’re growing healthy bodies for the future. One of the most obvious benefits of children participation in sports is that it helps them build and maintain a healthy body, reducing their risk of childhood obesity. It can even help them avoid chronic diseases and reduce their risk of getting certain cancers, like breast or colon cancer.
  • They’re improving their mood, focus, and academic performance. It has been shown that physical activity helps to reduce stress and depression due to the body’s production of feel-good chemicals called endorphins.
  • They’re strengthening their mental skills. Critical thinking, goalsetting, sportsmanship and the ability to make good judgments are some of the life skills youth develop and exercise as an athlete.
  • They’re becoming leaders. Children who play sports are gaining leadership qualities in their interpersonal communication with their teammates. They are increasing in their respect for others and pride and confidence in themselves.
  • They’re performing better in school. Athletes often see high grades and high school graduation rates, as well. As found by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, physical activity positively impacts academic behaviors which improve academic performance.

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