7 Reasons Why Sports are Great for Children’s Mental Health
Photo: National School Games 2022 / Hockey National B Div Girls Semi Finals / Team Nila Content Producer Siaw Woon Chong
In our fast-paced world, it can be tough to be a kid. Children face pressure to do well in exams, get into good schools, cope with real-world and online bullying, and so much more.
That’s why sport is important. Beyond the obvious physical benefits, sport also offers a myriad of social, emotional and psychological benefits that can boost children’s mental health.
- Source of happiness
Exercise releases serotonin and endorphins in our bodies. They are often called “happy chemicals” because they lift up our mood and regulate our stress levels, to keep us feeling cheerful and relaxed. This is an all-natural, healthy way for children to release stress and feel happier and healthier every day.
- Community of support
Sport establishes an intricate community of support, from teammates, schoolmates, parents, coaches and even the surrounding neighbourhood as everyone comes together to cheer on the school team. This creates a wholesome, nurturing and motivational environment for children, where they feel safe and supported by the people around them.
Little successes in sport goes a long way to boost a child’s self-confidence and self-esteem. It could be as simple as making it onto a team, successfully scoring a goal, or receiving praise for performing a difficult move or routine. These help young children to see their self-value in concrete ways.
- Mental resilience
Life is not always sunshine and rainbows. At times, children may encounter challenges like making mistakes, doing badly on a test, or facing a loss on the playing field. Through training, wins and losses, sports teach children to overcome these difficult moments without feeling defeated, and bounce back afterwards.
- Building skills
Sports are a great platform for children to start learning life skills, developing strength of character, and shaping a good work ethic. For example, they will learn to work well with others, handle all sorts of up and downs, and be disciplined and dedicated when working towards their goals. This will help them in many areas of life, academically, interpersonally, and in their future career as well.
- Boost brain power
Did you know that playing sports doesn’t just make your body fitter, it also trains your brain to achieve higher cognitive functions? Research shows that sports help children improve their attention and ability to focus on a given task. This is the same reason why professional athletes can tune out the loud cheering in a crowded stadium and focus on what’s truly important, like their gameplay or their coach’s feedback.
- Better sleep
We all know how it feels when we don’t get enough sleep. We wake up feeling grumpy and irritable, and have trouble concentrating. The same is true for children. Exercising during the day can help to regulate sleep schedule and improve sleep quality, which will in turn help them feel more refreshed and positive about their day.
When we talk about sports, physical fitness is almost always mentioned as the number one benefit. But sports also has much to offer in terms of mental health benefits. This is especially true for young children, as their minds are being shaped as they grow. So, make sure your child gets the recommended amount of exercise to reap the full range of benefits, so they grow up feeling happy and healthy.
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