The sport effects

Health experts share the benefits of children fitness

By Garett Richardson, Alberta Health Services

17

Photo by METRO NEWS

With the summer Olympics now over, many kids may be thinking of their own Olympic dreams. Sport provides many benefits to our health far beyond improvements in fitness.

Increasing physical activity and improving fitness have many positive effects on your health. Benefits can include reduced risk for obesity, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases like diabetes, and osteoporosis.

But participating in sport also improves skills such as teamwork, communication and leadership. All of these are important, not only for sport, but also for academics and are skills many employers look for. Sport can also have positive effects on self-discipline and becoming goal-oriented.

Sport is also a great way to make friends and build relationships. This helps builds social cohesion in communities by giving residents opportunities to play, support or volunteer.

Sport participation has been linked to life satisfaction as well. Active participants are healthy and fit and therefore feel better about themselves and their lives.

Relaxation and having fun are among the top ranked benefits of sport according to Canadians. Physical activity helps release the feel-good hormones associated with relaxation. Playing a sport that you enjoy with friends is a great way to enjoy your spare time.

Some studies have shown that sport programs targeting at-risk-youth can improve their self-esteem and reduce the chance of them participating in criminal activity. Other reasons for this reduction may include increased feelings of connectedness, feelings of empowerment, keeping youth busy and out of trouble, meeting needs that youth have for risk taking and fostering teamwork.

As you can see, sport has many positive benefits. Adults, children and youth can all benefit from participating in sport as an athlete, supporter or volunteer.

There are many resources in Alberta that encourage participation in sport, including the Alberta Sport Connection at www.albertasport.ca. Low income families can access funds to pay for registration fees and equipment for children through Kid Sport. Visit kidsportcanada.ca to see if your community has a local chapter.

For information on a variety of health related topics, visit www.ahs.ca or MyHealth.Alberta.ca. Health advice is also available 24/7 by calling Health Link at 811. 

– Connect Weekly –