No one will debate the importance of physical activity to our health and emotional well-being. And sports are a great way for kids to let all that excess energy out, keep physically fit, increase their concentration level and build self-esteem. All this, while developing teamwork, cooperation and discipline, and having fun to boot. Research from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) suggests that physically active children and adolescents also flourish academically.
According to Mayo Clinic research, encouraging young children to engage in sports will give them a “head start on lifelong fitness” and helps to prevent obesity. To avoid injury and to be sensitive to the child’s physical ability and maturity level, it is advisable to enroll them in age-appropriate sporting activities.
The Mayo Clinic classifies this demographic into 3 age groups: ages 2-5, 6-7 and 8+. The preschoolers and kindergarteners, with their limited attention span, should do unstructured exercise like running, climbing, playing catch and tricycle riding. The 6-7 year olds are more coordinated and can take direction well, so sports like softball, martial arts, gymnastics, track and soccer are ideal. For the 8 and over crowd, most organized sports – including contact sports – work well.
American youths take their sports seriously: there are 30 to 45 million kids aged 6-18 participating in one or more school and/or community-based athletic programs. And sports provide a positive psychological effect on children – they are less likely to be depressed or anxious. An old adage is well in play here: a fit body begets a fit mind!
Additional quote from Kelsey Stevens, Director, Fitness & Recreation Programs, Children’s Aid:
These avenues are challenged through basketball, baseball, tumbling, sports management, swimming and a host of other activities. These activities provide a wide range of developmental processes such as hand-eye coordination and the social atmosphere. Many of our youth strive on being competitive but with the understanding of doing your personal best. Though the aforementioned caters to our extramural teams, our intramural activities add to our focus of sports and fitness. Some of those activities are flag football, dodge ball, kickball, color call, volleyball and a host of other interactive games. Through these avenues we continue to develop their social interaction, sportsmanship, academic awareness, cardio, stamina, flexibility and a desire to accomplish a goal. Some of the methods we use to approach, recruit, involve and engage kids in sports are the benefits of social interaction, intramural and extramural games, a friendly and caring atmosphere, informative and knowledgeable staff as well as providing the opportunity to engage them in discussions about being a student athlete and what it takes to be successful in any objective.