Research Backed Benefits of Sports

Research Backed Benefits of Sports

When we are kids nobody needed to tell us the benefits of playing outside.

This generation on the other hand seems to be slipping away from sports and games. There’s still some fire left in organized sports but free play is almost dead.

96% of the 1001 parents who participated in the National Trust Survey with children aged between 4 and 14 said they thought that playing outdoors was crucial to their child’s overall development.

Health and Human Services guidelines stipulate that children are supposed to have at least 60 minutes of physical activity everyday along with 8 to 10 hours of sleep.

But the ground reality is much different. Millions of children enrolled in preschool and kindergarten are facing a gigantic problem— a lack of the right amount of required physical activity.

The National Trust survey uncovered that in a full week, children just played outside for over four hours. Comparatively their parents at the same age averaged 8.2 hours of play per week.

The data from CDC  however found that the actual numbers reveal a grim reality. 30 percent of children attended a school in which they were offered physical education daily. For a vast majority of school going students there’s no physical activity during the school week.

In this post we will look at the benefits of play and sports and the problems caused by not engaging in sports.

Let’s get started.

What are the problems caused due to declining playtime?

American Journal of Play says that declining play times are resulting in emotionally stunted children who are anxious, depressed and lack self control.

Peter Gray professor at Boston college says that since 1955 play times have been on a constant downhill path.

Compared to 1981, in 1997 spent children spent less free time with 18 percent more time at school, 145 percent more time going to homework and so on. Come 2018 the schedules have turned much more packed with little time for free play.

A compulsion-free play time helps children identify with their interests. In free play there’s rarely any trophies or awards to capture. They do what they want to do and this results in psychological growth

It is through play that children first learn how to make decisions, solve problems, exert self control, and follow rules.

One of the big problems is parents themselves. Children are rarely outdoors and if they do manage to play they are following instructions of their coaches in organized play.

While organized play doesn’t come without its set of benefits free play proffers skills and qualities that are otherwise lost. Under the watchful eyes of parents who’re preparing them for competitive sports children are competing against each other.

Freely chosen outside play time is a testing ground that prepares children for life without which they would lack confidence and competency.

That said, sports organized or otherwise offers a lot of benefits to children and adults engaging in them.

Let’s see what those are:

Social Benefits

Sports help children develop self control.

This self control and clear-thinking extends to zones outside the playground.

A study conducted on 14000 high school athlete revealed that those who regularly engaged in sports were less likely to use drugs.

Students who ever played sports were less likely to have smoked cigarettes. And would likely discourage peers from encouraging the act.

Also, the Women’s Sports Foundation has in its analysis found that teenage pregnancies among female high school athletes are 80% less likely than non-athletes.

When climbing the corporate ladder, one skill that’s important is teamwork. When you have youngsters chasing down a ball across the field to score a goal, it requires tremendous teamwork and trust in each other to get to that goal.

Effective communication, non verbal cues are all ingrained when playing and this experience is helpful when encountering problems at work or at home.

Sports teaches that in a fun way.

Better Academic performance

Physically active children generally outperform their peers who’re not active. Children who engage in more physical activity have larger brain volumes in basal ganglia and hippocampus— regions associated with memory, thought, decision making and behavior.

Children who are physically active according to one research report increased concentration and higher attention spans.

Physically fit children are able to tune out other stimuli and focus on a task and complete whatever they’re up to.
Studies conducted over states like including Wyoming, Iowa, and Colorado – have shown that playing sports can lead to success in classroom.

Athletes not only do well but generally tend to have higher grade point averages, higher standardized test scores, better attendance, lower dropout rates. There’s also the higher probability of them making to college.

According to popular belief sports saps energy and time, but despite that many athletes tend to do particularly well in academics.

Sports doesn’t become a distraction for them.

Here’s why?

Sports call for skills like repetition and learning — that which are important at class and hence when playing they’re practicing these skills.

The authors of the study go so far as to state that physical activity is as good as non pharmaceutical intervention for children who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder.

Better leadership skills

Another quality in life and profession that would benefit anyone a lot is leadership. Team sports like football, basketball and others can inculcate leadership qualities in children. And growing up that doesn’t leave them. Studies done in high schools show that students who participated in team sports tend to have leadership qualities ingrained in them.

Team sports help children train, try at winning, win or lose together and adapt to a team mindset early on. You win when the team wins as a whole and everything else is just background noise.

Improve sleep quality

In this age and time when sleep flees from most of us, sports has proven track record of being able to improve sleep quality.

When you play sports naturally you get tired and fall asleep sooner. This tends to deepen our sleep and gives us better sleep. Good sleep lifts moods, improves performance and generally results in higher quality of life.

Physical health benefits

Ideal BMI index

Sports also helps kids maintain ideal BMI index. Weight gain won’t be an issue if children engage in active sports.

Resistance to diseases

Exercise is a proven way to improve your immunity because it improves the rate at which white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow. Regular sports increase the amount of  sweat you release and this way removes disease-causing bacteria from the body keeping you healthy.

Muscle Toning

Sports like other forms of physical activity help tone the muscles. Toned muscles are much more enduring and it’s a complete workout toning both the inner and outer muscles muscles. Toned muscles are desirable in anyone and improves self-esteem of both adults and youngsters.

Stronger Bones

When you age your bones lower in density and become brittle. This can lead to osteoporosis. Sports can help maintain bone strength by forcing the body to expend resources on keeping them strong.

Later in life, this can help prevent osteoporosis.

Health benefits for adults

According to World Health Organization estimates, approximately 25% of patients who visit clinics and hospitals have either mental, behavioral, or neurological disorder that’s  never treated or diagnosed. Exercise like the one sports provides also doubles up as therapy addressing psychological disorders. These kinds of interpersonal benefits are often ignored but very much a part and parcel of sports.

 Reduced Stress

Exercising has always been linked with stress release. Sports is a great stress buster and in many ways better than exercise. When you’re lifting dead weight there’s no exhilaration in the process. But when your team wins a match or scores goal there’s instant release of dopamine.

That’s not the only benefit. There are many direct benefits of sports for adults:

Diabetes Control

Diabetes which is a lifestyle disorder can be controlled if you participate in sports. Why?

Because sports helps better regulate insulin in the body. That way diabetics are able to utilize insulin present in the body. Sports also helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Lower Hypertension

Hypertension is when you have high blood pressure. It can result in stroke or heart disease. Sports and physical activity can help lower hyper tension.

Improved Blood Circulation

The blood in the body starts moving around a lot when you’re playing sports. This in turn helps the body remain oxygenated which in turn promotes health. Research has shown that when you’re physically active haemoglobin count in the blood increases too.

Concluding thoughts

Sports is beneficial at any age. While school going children and teenagers can enjoy any game adults would be better off with less strenuous games like badminton, golf, basketball, cricket or volleyball.

Author Bio: John is a health and fitness blogger who extols the virtues of Sports for health on his blog