Parents who feel like their kids’ lives are enriched in myriad ways by the sports they play just got a little evidence to back up that hunch. And girls may feel the benefits even more than boys.
A new study out of West Virginia University, published this week in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, has found that middle-school kids not only feel healthier when they play team sports, but also more satisfied with their lives overall.
The study, which surveyed 245 boys and girls, ages 12 to 14, about their physical activities, health and overall satisfaction with life, found that playing on a sports team was linked with an increase life satisfaction in both boys and girls.
Interestingly, though, the genders did not assess the impact of sports on their health equally. While boys were five times more likely to describe their health as fair-to-poor when they were not playing on a sports team, girls were 30 times more likely to do so. Another gender difference: For boys, vigorous activity alone had no effect on either their life satisfaction or self-rated health, but girls who said they had participated in a vigorous activity in the week prior to filling out the questionnaire reported significantly higher rates of life satisfaction than those who did not, though it did not have an impact on their self-rated health.
“There’s a lot of positive things that happen when people participate in sports,” one of the study’s co-authors, public health researcher Keith Zullig, told the Orlando Sentinel. “There’s communication, team building, and emotional benefits.”
Personally, I definitely feel like my kids have benefited from the team sports they play, way beyond the obvious health benefits: They’ve learned how to take losses in stride and keep on trying, to cheer on their teammates and look beyond their own concerns, to schlep out to practice or a game even in crappy weather (or even when it means they’re missing a birthday party) because they have a responsibility to the team.
How about you? What benefits have you found from your kids’ participation in team sports? Any drawbacks?