Teen sports can have a major positive impact on a child's quality of life, especially in the area of mental health. There are a variety of ways to reap exercise's benefits, from dance, yoga and hiking to basketball, baseball and other team sports. In addition to promoting a healthier body, youth athletics also boost self-esteem, hone teamwork skills and allow athletes to develop a close community of peers and supportive adults while they break a sweat.
The mental benefits of playing sports have been well documented; according to a Canadian study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, students who play team sports in grades 8 through 12 experience lower depression symptoms, lower perceived stress and better self-rated mental health.
Why do teen sports benefit mental health? Scientists have been exploring the link between exercise and mood for more than 100 years. What they've found is that both biological and psychological factors come into play.
What Happens When We Exercise
Exercise positively impacts levels of serotonin, a chemical that helps regulate mental health. Working out also releases endorphins, the body’s natural “happy chemicals" while reducing the stress hormone cortisol. Teen sports, as well as other outdoor activities, get teens outside so they can experience the benefits of time in nature while feeling more positive about their bodies and their physical abilities.
To Ward off Anxiety, Get Moving
In addition to protecting teens from depression, physical exercise can prevent or decrease symptoms of teen anxiety. A study of college students showed that those who were physically active reported higher levels of excitement and enthusiasm as compared to those who were less active.
More Benefits of Teen Sports
The endorphins released by exercise have a wide range of beneficial effects on psychological health. While combating depression and anxiety, teen athletes experience additional benefits, including:
- More confidence
- Better concentration and alertness
- Reduced levels of overall tension
- Improved cognitive function
- Higher levels of life satisfaction
- Increase in critical thinking and judgment skills
- Enhanced ability to cope with stress
Ultimately, teen sports offer multiple benefits for mental health. It’s worth the extra time, money or driving that teen athletics may require to provide a strong foundation for physical and mental well-being.
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