Physical fitness and exercise help youth develop important skills such as conflict resolution, cooperation with peers and social skills such as leadership and fine tuning motor skills. Healthy behaviors are a positive side effect of exercise while also increasing social skills necessary for development.
Participation in group sports or activities is one way youth might get involved in physical activity. Team sports provide opportunities to improve self-esteem, promote healthy nutrition and encourage lifestyle choices which do not include drugs or alcohol. Not only are the benefits great as children, as young people grow into teens and adults, lessons learned through team sports such as tennis, football, soccer and other similar activities can have positive physical benefits for the brain and body.
Childhood obesity has become a problem for youth of all ages which can lead to cardiac issues, high blood pressure and diabetes later in life. Researchers report students who participate in physical exercise of at least 20 minutes per day on a weekly basis are more likely to demonstrate positive benefits in not only leadership abilities and empathy but also on a deeper level such as increased muscle tone, bone mass and stamina. Cognitive and social emotional learning capacities also increased with increased amounts of physical exercise.
Youth who take responsibility for healthy daily choices demonstrate a positive impact such as an active lifestyle throughout life and increased social responsibility. Three excellent skills which increase with physical activity and involvement in activities include the following:
Communication: social success relies on the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately. Simple tasks such as remembering a person’s name and social cues such as offering compliments and promoting positive behavior after losing a game are mastered with practice. Team sports such as tennis are excellent ways to teach communication between teammates, coach, judges in competition and enhancing confidence.
Belonging to a group: learning how to join a group is a learned skill. Negotiation is needed for a child to feel comfortable joining and requires other members of the group being open to the new member. Children learn give and take in this process while also experiencing leadership opportunities. The rules of the game provide a framework for children to learn this important life skill.
Standing up for self and others: learning how to assert oneself is a difficult skill which children must learn through practice. Some children may be vulnerable while others are aggressive or bullying. When a child learns positive ways of communicating it can help in standing up for oneself or others. Team environments such as tennis, soccer and other games build confidence where a child experiments with standing up for oneself and as part of a team. Assertiveness and aggressiveness are differentiated through the supportive framework of a team led by a coach.