A featured guest post from Simon, writing for Banana Moon
We all know playing sports is a great way to get some exercise, and having fun while doing so is an additional benefit. But there is a distinct difference between the number of girls and boys playing sports. Up to 70% of boys participate in regular exercise, with some reports suggesting the amount of girls participating in sport to be as low as 31%, with the recent success of the Olympics hopefully this number will increase. So if your daughter wants take up athletics don’t give her the run around, here are 5 reasons girls should be playing sport other than the fitness benefits.
1. Better Results at School
It may seem that playing sports would take up time that could be used for studying, which in turn would have a detrimental effect on school results. But research suggests that girls who regularly participate in extracurricular sports perform better in school than their peers who don’t. Sport improves concentration, memory, and learning, which is sure to give active girls a head start in the classroom.
2. Learn Teamwork and Goal-Setting Skills
By participating in sports the effectiveness of working together becomes more apparent than in a classroom or work based situation, learning to cooperate on the field can easily transfer to other situations where achieving a common goal is the desired outcome. Working with coaches, trainers, and teammates to set goals and work towards them will help develop communication skills that can be difficult to learn in a classroom; and teach girls that the success of a team is not due to one person’s performance but the performance of each individual working for the group. Setting goals is also a great way to direct attention and focus on a desired outcome, the achievement of which will greatly increase self-confidence.
3. Boosting Self-Confidence
Girls that take part in sports tend to be more self-confident. Knowing that you can set goals, train towards them, and achieve them is great and by gradually increasing the difficulty of skills and opposition you will quickly develop a sense of confidence and will be much more likely to try something more difficult in the future. Performance accomplishments are the greatest influencer on sports confidence; understanding that you are the biggest influencer on your performance will send a girl’s self-confidence sky high and encourage her to believe in internal affecters rather than be negatively affected by external forces such as peers or fate. Knowing that internal factors are much more likely to affect results will allow for greater risks to be taken on the sports field, in the classroom, and socially, resulting in greater rewards.
4. Reduce Pressure
As I’m sure most of us know being a teenager can be quite a stressful experience. Although the causes of the stress may appear trivial as adults, they are very real at the time. Since the rapid rise in social media and the pressures faced by girls to look a certain way the causes of stress are only increasing, as a recent study found when it discovered one in three teenagers experience stress at least once a week. Exercise is known to inhibit the release of cortisol from the adrenal gland, which acts as part of the bodies fight or flight response and suppresses the immune system, so exercise reduces the physical symptoms stress can induce. Not only does exercise decrease the release of cortisol it even increases the release of endorphins, the bodies feel good chemical, producing a feeling of jubilation sometimes known as ‘Runner’s high’.
5. Great for Health
As well as the obvious benefits of maintaining a healthy weight and cardiovascular fitness girls there are other health benefits. One of which is girls who play sport are less likely to smoke than those who don’t take part in any sports. The effects can also be seen as girls get older, with those that exercise less likely to develop breast cancer. Exercise undertaken at an early age will also help strengthen bones helping to reduce the chances of suffering osteoporosis.
In summary girls should be participating in sports as they help develop skills that can be transferred to other facets of life, as well as making them feel better both emotionally and physically. Introducing girls to sport will hopefully foster a passion that they will maintain throughout their adult life, and gain the health benefits that are seen not only in the short term but also the long term.
Simon is a Sports and Exercise Science graduate and coach of a junior hockey team, blogging on behalf of Banana Moon who specialise in personalised clothing; including sports kits, T-shirt printing, and personalised hoodies.