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Four reasons why sport is important in early childhood development

Article by Megan Colborne

Megan Colborne

Posted: July 8, 2022

Sport is a fun and healthy way to keep kids busy. But exposing children to sports at a young age can also benefit their overall development. 

Sport has brought camaraderie, unity and happiness to humans for centuries, with benefits to all, both young and old. But the contribution it has to the mental and physical development of children could be seen as its greatest outcome.

 Here are four reasons why sport is important for the growth of children.

 

1) Staying active promotes good health

 

 

Research in the medical field has shown that living an active lifestyle from a young age could decrease the chances of contracting serious medical conditions including diabetes, weak bones and problems with blood pressure later in life.

Other important health benefits include better coordination and balance, better sleep and a reduced risk of diabetes.

 

2) Exercise can help relieve stress

 

 

Much like adults, children are also at risk of experiencing high levels of stress – particularly with our current global issues. If this childhood stress is mismanaged, children may be at risk of developing anxiety disorders. 

Exercise helps in the prevention of stress and anxiety by activating the parts of the brain that release feel-good chemicals. These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters, and include endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.

Neurotransmitters are vital in regulating moods and are released when you participate in physical activity. So, when children are keeping active, they are effectively managing their levels of stress without even realising it.

 

3) Physical activities can improve academic performance

 

 

Participating in sports programs from a young age has a strong link to improved academic performance and overall cognitive development over time. 

Studies have shown better test scores, more positive attitudes, increased opportunities to excel outside of the classroom, as well as improved classroom manners and attention spans in children who participate in sports from a young age.

 

4) Sports can teach important social skills

 

 

The skills – honesty, teamwork, commitment, having respect for others and understanding rules – that may develop through playing sport can contribute greatly to the overall development of a child. 

The competitive aspect of sports can also help to teach children how to handle both winning and losing with maturity.

 

Why volunteer in sports programs?

 

Playing sport has the potential to affect children’s lives in significant and positive ways – supporting both their mental and physical well-being. This aligns well with the goals we support at GVI.

We understand that sport is important for the overall development of children. Because of this, our aim is to increase children’s access to sports. 

What are you waiting for? Sign up here to assist in the long-term development of children through sports programs in South Africa, Costa Rica or India.

Disclaimer: The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

By Megan Colborne

Megan Colborne is a content writer from South Africa with a passion for travel and adventure. Megan has an honours-level degree in Journalism specialising in writing and editing, as well as digital media. Before starting at GVI in 2019, she spent a year working in Spain, and travelling to other European countries like Amsterdam, Switzerland, Ireland and France. Megan is also an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.
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