In It To Win It: The Benefits Of Introducing Kids To Sports From A Young Age
With the UN warning of a potential mental health crisis for today’s children, it has never been more important to give young people the tools to build good health - both physically and mentally.
Encouraging children to be active is a hugely powerful way to help them channel their natural energy positively, to build good habits for life, and to avoid childhood obesity and the health risks it brings.
Whatever age your child, there will be sports and activities to suit them, so be adventurous; you may just find something you love too.
Let’s get physical
Government guidelines recommend that children aged 5-11 take part in at least one hour of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise each day. Activities could include walking with the family dog, riding their bike or scooter at the park, or dancing in the kitchen.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that certain activities will only appeal to either gender. Just as children have the best chance of reaching their potential when gender classifications for toys are removed, both boys and girls can thrive splashing in puddles, playing tag, climbing ropes or learning to roller skate. There are no limits or rules: just do what suits your family and your child.
The physical benefits of getting active
Aside from helping children to maintain a healthy weight - especially relevant since an estimated 12% of Canadian children are overweight or obese - there are other important physical benefits to taking part in sports or activities.
Regular physical activity helps to build strong muscles and bones, strengthens the heart and lungs, and lowers stress and anxiety levels.
At a time when so many children and young people are feeling worried about catching up at school or missing loved ones, this is a really important aspect of their health to take care of. Regular exercise should also help your child to sleep more restfully too.
Equipping kids for life
In addition to the physical benefits above, there are a multitude of other reasons to encourage kids to be enthusiastic about sports and adopting an active lifestyle.
A study from the University of British Colombia has shown that participating in team sports can help young people to feel more optimistic and develop a sense of belonging. It’s also a great way to make friends and protect your child from boredom, loneliness and isolation.
As your child grows up, if they are in the habit of being active, they will find it easier to carve out time from higher studies or work, and will have the tools at their disposal to de-stress, relax, and unwind in a healthy way.
Now more than ever, children need to be given ways to let off some steam and build healthy habits, and getting active is one of the very best. They will take their cues from you, so try to make it fun.
Encourage them as they learn, find ways to be active as a family, and be positive about the brilliant things they are achieving for their mind and body. There’s nothing to lose and everything to win.
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