Benefits of Youth in Sports


Physical activity is vital to the holistic development of young people, fostering their physical, social, and emotional health. Participating in sports activities have been shown to be both physically and psychologically beneficial for kids and teenagers. Sports satisfaction surveys reveal that having fun is one of the principal reasons most children like to participate in sports. Beyond entertainment, some of the benefits of regular and consistent exercise include the prevention of certain types of diseases; and the reduction of risk of cardiovascular-related problems such as heart disease, heart attack, and high blood pressure, among others. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control reported that students who participated in high levels of physical activity were less like to have diabetes and to be overweight. Results from a Juvenile Wellness and Health inventory administered to 1,769 high school students (see Steiner, McQuivey, Pavelski, Pitts & Kraemer, 2000), indicated that those who participated in sports were more likely to eat fruit and vegetables, and less likely to engage in smoking and illicit drug use. Results also indicated that there was a positive correlation between physical exercise and mental health. 


The benefits of youth participation in sports go beyond physical wellness. Some people in positions of leadership attribute essential life lessons learned from participating in sports during their adolescence. Lessons include determination, accountability, adherence to rules, resilience, respect for themselves and others, courage, and teamwork. Additionally, the value of the educational benefits of a sport should not be under-estimated. Children who participate in sports display up to 40% better learning outcomes, as proxied by standardized tests in reading and mathematics (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). Youth who participate in sports are 15% more likely to go to college, and they are more likely to be productive adults (Lee, 2015).


Despite all benefits of young people participating in sports, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) found that the number of kids that played in a team sport on a regular basis decreased from 44.5% in 2008 to 40% in 2013. Children and teens spend around 8 hours per day using TVs, computers, phones, and other electronic devices (Common Sense Media, 2015). As a result, nearly one in three children and teens in America are overweight (Ogden, Carroll, Kit & Flegal, 2014).  


Children between ages 5 and 17 should conduct either a moderate or vigorous activity for at least 60 minutes per day. So, there are some tips and strategies that parents should consider to encourage their children to participate in sports:


1. Talk to your child and explain why physical activity is important. 


2. Find a sport that your child enjoys. This will increase the chances that your child will continue practicing it.


3. Make sports a family pastime. Sports are a great way to spend time together. 


4. Make sure that your child is playing a sport in a convenient and safe environment, time frame, and location. 


5. Be a role model. Children would probably imitate if they see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity. 


6. Do not overdo an activity. The goal is to develop healthy habits and maintain a physical exercise routine. Exercise should not be a painful activity, but a joyful one.




Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Common Sense Media. (2015). The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens. San Francisco, CA.

Guidelines Index - 2008 Physical Activity - (2018). Retrieved from

Lee, A. (2015). The 7 Charts that Show the State of Youth Sports in the US and Why it MattersThe Aspen Institute

Ogden, C., Carroll, M., Kit, B., & Flegal, K. (2014). Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. Survey Of Anesthesiology58(4), 206.

Pate, R., Trost, S., Levin, S., & Dowda, M. (2000). Sports Participation and Health-Related Behaviors Among US Youth. Archives Of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine154(9), 904.

Steiner, H., McQuivey, R., Pavelski, R., Pitts, T., & Kraemer, H. (2000). Adolescents and Sports: Risk or Benefit?. Clinical Pediatrics39(3), 161-166.