Physical activity is known to help one to keep away from a sedentary lifestyle. Throwing light on other benefits of physical activity for children, a new study highlights that those who engage in organised physical activity at a young age are less likely to have emotional difficulties later in life.
Besides keeping children from being sedentary, physical activities such as structured sports have the potential to be enriching, both physically and mentally, noted the study, published in the journal Pediatric Research.
“The elementary school years are a critical time in child development, and every parent wants to raise a well-adjusted child,” said study’s lead author Frederic N Briere, Professor at the University of Montreal in Canada.
For the study, the researchers took data from a cohort of children born in 1997 or 1998. They examined whether consistent participation in organised sport from ages six to 10 would minimise risks associated with emotional distress, anxiety, shyness, and social withdrawal at age 12.
“The results revealed that children who participated consistently from ages six to 10 showed fewer instances of those factors at age 12 than their counterparts who did not engage in physical activity in a consistent way,” said Briere.
“Getting kids actively involved in organised sport seems to promote global development. This involvement appears to be good on a socio-emotional level and not just because of physical benefits,” he added.
The study also pointed out how being less emotionally distressed at the juncture between elementary and high school is a priceless benefit for children as they are about to enter a much larger universe with bigger academic challenges.
Previously, a 2013-study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity recommended that community sport participation is advocated as a form of leisure time physical activity for children and adolescents, in an effort to not only improve physical health in relation to issues like obesity crisis, but also to enhance psychological and social health outcomes.