Often parents find themselves in an internal battle. Should you encourage your child to start exercising or playing sports at an early age, or is their body not ready yet? Fortunately, children are much stronger than they look and are constantly pushing their bodies to the limit during play, so there’s no need to worry about that.
The question remains though, what are the major advantages of encouraging little ones to play sports or go for a short walk or run? In this post, we are going to cover that exact topic, highlighting the major benefits that exercising from an early age provides. This way, you should be able to make an educated decision for your own children or students.
Particularly in sports teams and clubs, the opportunity for children to develop communication skills is invaluable. At early ages, children often struggle to convey their emotions or, more commonly, struggle to understand the emotions of others. Empathy is a very complex skill that we only learn through experience and practise. In a youth sports team, children are constantly presented with opportunities to interact with others their age and learn about body language, tone and behaviour.
Aside from genuine interactions and experiences, teaching empathy can be difficult. Definitely consider a sports club if you want to help develop a young person’s social and communication skills from. Plus, you never know what hobby or interest you may help your child or student discover.
Physical Fitness and Development
Whilst this is more of an obvious point, it doesn’t change its importance. Today’s technological age is resulting in fewer and fewer people exercising regularly and staying fit. This is even more of a concern in our children which require regular exercise to ensure they develop correctly. Schools install outdoor fitness equipment for this exact reason but as a parent or carer, its’ still a good idea to encourage further sports or exercise within our young people.
Especially for toddlers, selecting a sport with a game element is significantly more important. Children, just like adults, love to gamify what they are doing and so running for the sake of it won’t interest or entice them. Even if you are just kicking a ball around in the garden, make a game o fit to keep your little one interested, engaged and ready for more next time you play.
By far one of the most underestimated benefits of introducing children to sports early is the relationship it builds with physical activity. Humans are creatures of habit and association. The experiences we go through as children impact our behaviours and subconscious thoughts in the future, which affects our relationship with sport too.
Plenty of research has been done which shows that adults who exercised and played sports as children live healthier lives and in some cases are also more professionally successful. It’s much easier to create long-lasting habits as children, so encouraging little ones to play sports regularly is the best way to help them engage in physical activity as adults too.
Dedication and Focus
Finally, it’s important to talk about the dedication aspect of playing sports and exercising. At a young age, physical activity is rarely about being fit and healthy, it’s more about improving in a specific field. Football players practise so that they can improve their skills, whilst runners practise so that they can win races more easily. In short, being dedicated and practising regularly leads to improved results and satisfaction.
This association between hard work and achieving results is a brilliant life lesson that many sports people translate into adulthood and wider life. In work, this focus is particularly beneficial because it helps encourage individuals to learn a skill quickly and effectively, rather than get bogged down by their inability to achieve from the outset.
These benefits are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exercise and sports in children. Be sure to do a little additional research if you’re still unsure and as always, the key is for the children to enjoy what they are doing. These benefits will not manifest themselves If a young person is forced to exercise or play sports, only if they are enjoying themselves and want to get involved more.