School is almost out, and children are about to have a lot of free time on their hands. Getting them away from a sedentary lifestyle with too much technology is getting more and more difficult. The CDC recommends children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 years old get 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous daily physical activity.
Regular physical activity during childhood helps children stay healthy and sets the stage for active adults.
An active lifestyle during childhood offers benefits beyond just physical health, such as: improved attention spans, better grades, improved mood & memory, and helps to lower their risk of depression. Regular exercise can also improve the quantity and quality of sleep.
Sports are a great way to encourage physical activity through fun. There are many benefits to getting children involved in organized sports when they are young. Children participating in sports have opportunities to enhance self-esteem, improve self-discipline, socialize with peers, and develop new physical and mental skills.
Something to avoid early on in sports is the specialization of just one sport. The more sports and activities that children are involved in early on in their lives, the more opportunity they have to develop themselves as an athlete, not just as a baseball, basketball, or football player. Many skills and techniques transfer from one sport to another and complement each other while continuing to further develop and build upon preexisting skill sets.
According to one study of NCAA Division I athletes, 88% participated in an average of two or three sports as children, and 70% didn’t specialize in a single sport until after age 12. Approximately 70% of NFL players were multi-sport athletes as children.
Focusing on just one sport from an early age can increase the risk of overuse injuries, decrease overall athletic development, and cause burnout that results in a child giving up on the sport. Playing a variety of sports at a young age also allows the child to discover what they like about different sports.
It is important to remember that kids play sports because they are able to have fun with their friends, they enjoy playing, and they like to compete. Children, as do adults, thrive when they enjoy what they are doing.
Whether it’s an organized sport, playing ball in the yard, going for a walk, riding a bike, or any of the other endless types of physical activities, make it a priority this summer to keep those bodies moving.