The Benefits of Children Playing Sport

Children's lifestyles have changed rapidly over the years from once active lives outside to now being stuck inside and glued to phones and computers, so how can you encourage your children to exercise and live a healthy life?

Despite being mainly a Personal Training company, here at Sterling Fitness we are firm believers of everyone playing/doing sport in one form or another, be it weightlifting, football, rugby or golf, and this is especially true for children. Whilst the gym may not always be suitable for kids, sports fields most definitely are and can teach children many valuable life lessons that they wouldn't learn elsewhere. PE classes do encourage kids to get active and often spark interest in certain sports, but often this is only true for children who are naturally talented, and the rest of the class aren't encouraged as much to realise the enjoyment and health benefits of sport. A child might not be the most naturally athletic, but that doesn't mean that sport isn't for them - there is a sport for everyone and we believe that everyone should be encouraged to take part and find their sport.

There are barriers to sport for many families, the most common one being the cost of sports camps, kit, training sessions and club memberships, but this doesn't mean that everyone has to miss out. Sport England has introduced the Families Fund which is a new area of investment which allows families to be able to exercise together with their children and get them into playing sport, and this is specifically aimed at low income families. More information can be found here:

The NHS have the following guidelines for exercise in children:

'Children and young people need to do 2 types of physical activity each week:

aerobic exercise

exercises to strengthen their muscles and bones

Children and young people aged 5 to 18 should:

aim for an average of at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a day across the week

take part in a variety of types and intensities of physical activity across the week to develop movement skills, muscles and bones

reduce the time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity. Aim to spread activity throughout the day. All activities should make you breathe faster and feel warmer'

The benefits of being involved with sport from a young age are numerous, so see below for some of our favourites:

  1. Boosts self esteem and confidence. This can be especially true for children who aren't used to being top of the class academically. Achieving their goals and seeing their hard work pay off is a great confidence boost.

  2. Improves teamwork and leadership skills. This is true for both team and individual sports as there is often a team/support network involved in any sport, and this teaches a child how to work together and be there for friends/teammates when needed.

  3. Creates a healthy habit of exercise. Children who are active and exercise are much more likely to continue the habit into adulthood which as we know, has so many benefits.

  4. Develops self control and resilience. Success and failure are both key parts of playing any sport, so a child will have to experience both and learn how to deal with both in a sportsmanlike way with respect and grace. These skills are essential in everyday life and can't always be learnt in other scenarios.

  5. Physical benefits. There are so many of these but just some include: strengthening of bones, improving immune system and reducing obesity. Everyone wants the best health for their children, so encouraging sport and regular activity should come naturally to every parent.

  6. Teaches respect. Of teammates, coaches, competitors and supporters - children learn the importance of respecting everyone around them and how they have helped them to get to where they are.

  7. Reduces stress and improves mental health. This isn't talked about enough, but the mental benefits of exercise in general are huge and can't be underestimated. Children have mental health in the same way that adults do, and so it should be looked after just as we look after ours.

  8. It's fun! This goes without saying; sport is fun, team training, winning, being part of a community and being active are all enjoyable aspects.

There are so many sports and clubs that children can get involved in, and they don't all have to cost money. Local clubs, gyms and schools all have activities for kids that are accessible to everyone, and you don't even need to travel for your child to get active - they can do it at home!

Here at Sterling Fitness, we have experience of providing Personal Training to teenagers and also work with school sports teams, so for any enquiries of coaching or PT, please get in touch.

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