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Playing Sports Helps Kids Do Better in School

There’s little doubt that playing sports helps kids stay physically fit, fight obesity, and make friends, but can it also help their grades?  You bet it can.  The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conducted research to investigate the link between physical activity in children and their academic performance in school.  The study examined 214 middle schooler who were randomly assigned to take a physical education class during the first or second semester of the school year. Researchers collected information on each student's activity level during and outside of PE class, and compared their activity levels to their grades in four academic subjects:  math, science, world studies and English.  At the end of the study, researchers concluded that the moderate activity provided by PE class for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week did not influence grades.  But, the study showed that those students who were more active and participated in vigorous physical activity for 20 minutes 3 days per week, did perform better in school.  For most of the participants who exercised vigorously, this was through participation in sports outside of school such as soccer, basketball, football, baseball, and softball.

The ACSM study is just one amongst a huge body of research on this topic that consistently concludes exercise indeed provides an academic boost.  Kids who are more physically active show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed, and do better on standardized tests than their less active counterparts.  Scientists suspect that being more active improves blood flow to the brain, providing more oxygen to the cells responsible for learning and attention.  Exercise can also increase certain hormone levels, improving overall mood and combatting stress, both of which make for a better learning environment.

The benefits of playing sports go well beyond just fitness and good grades.  Athletes are better able to concentrate during class, have fewer behavior problems, improve their motor skills and self-esteem.  Participating in sports teaches kids about cooperation, teamwork, and makes them learn about rules and how to act appropriately in social settings.  All of this translates directly into the classroom, resulting in students who follow classroom rules more diligently and get along better with fellow classmates and teachers.

In older children, playing sports teaches them time management skills as they balance the demands of school with practice/game schedules.  Studies have shown athletes are less likely to smoke or engage in drug use than non-athletes.

Getting your child involved in sports has far reaching effects, even into adulthood.  Sports are an easy answer to helping your child boost performance in the classroom.  But even non-athletic children achieve the same benefits of physical activity with non-competitive activities such as biking, swimming, jogging, dancing or playing games like tag.

How Playing Team Sports Can Make You a Success in the Boardroom

More than a few parents have dreamed of their child going on to be hugely successful by playing professional sports. From the first time they tied the laces on their cleats, tossed them a basketball, or helped them oil their first baseball mitt, visions of the NBA, NFL, or MBL draft danced in their heads.  And while that’s not realistic for all but a very small portion of the population, going on to become successful in a career as a result of playing youth team sports is.

Remember that book that came out a few years ago “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?”  Well, it turns out, everything you need to be successful in the boardroom you learned while playing sports.

Did You Know:  95% of Fortune 500 CEOs participated in athletics/sports in high school.

That’s an impressive statistic.  Also, a recent Cornell study shows that past participation in competitive team sports gives you a leg up in the competition for better jobs.  Even if you weren’t team captain or you mostly sat the bench, experts recommend you include high school sports experience on your résumé for the duration of your career.  Employers and co-workers expect former student athletes to possess greater leadership ability, more self-confidence and self-respect when compared to those who didn’t compete in varsity high school sports.

About the study’s results, Cornell researcher Brian Wansink said, “Something very special happens on scholastic playing fields and tracks and basketball courts. Student-athletes, whether or not they are captains or leaders of their teams, are exposed to leaders in an environment that rewards transformational leadership. The focus in youth sports is on prosocial traits: respect, trust and confidence. That experience spills over wherever their adult lives take them.”

If you want to help your child be successful professionally, sign him/her up for youth sports!


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