There is an increasing amount of evidence supporting the notion that girls should participate in sports and physical activity. Not only are sports a fun way for kids to socialize and get some exercise, but continued participation can result in some far-reaching benefits! Interested? Good. Now, keep reading. We’ve broken down some of the benefits of sports participation for girls below.

Physical Healtha54t8552_edited-1

We know that higher levels of physical activity are correlated with lower levels of chronic diseases, but girls in sports also feel healthier! A 2008 study by the Women in Sports Foundation revealed that female athletes described their health as “excellent” more often than female non-athletes, meaning that they feel healthier in general than their inactive counterparts.

Additionally, girls who play sports hold a more body-positive self-image. In a society that constantly confronts girls with the “ideal” body type, it is important that girls have the tools to love their bodies! The same study by the Women in Sports Foundation revealed that girls who participate in sports at least 3 times per year have higher body esteem than those who do not.

This may be in part because girls who participate in sports are less likely to become obese. The increase in 12-17-year-old girls participating in sports from 1971-1980 because of the passage of Title IX meant a decrease in obesity rates in girls in this age range. The decrease in obesity rates was directly correlated with the implementation of more sports programs for girls.

Basically, playing sports does the body good!

Educational Success8962899906_6d333aa9ee_o

Did you know that girls who play sports also get better grades in school?

It’s true, girls who play sports learn the skills for budgeting time, setting priorities, and organizing! All of these contribute to better study habits and in turn better grades. These girls are also less likely to drop out of school and more likely to pursue a college education. Educational success is not limited to girls of high school age; it is important to note that the prime time to expose girls to sports is in the elementary school years.

Even after their time in school is over, girls who have participated in athletics experience an accelerated path to their career goals with the majority of interviewers believing that athletes make excellent candidates for jobs. Those skills learned from playing sports really do pay off!

Emotional and Psychological Health8782038459_fa535d53a9_o

Given the physical nature of sports, we tend to overlook the impacts participation in sports has on mental health. We already learned that girls who participate in sports have a better body image than those who do not, but these girls are also more confident and less likely to experience depression. Girls who participate in sports are also less likely to experience anxiety disorders, less likely to attempt suicide, and more likely to have a positive body image. 

Countless research studies support the positive impact that participation in sports has on a girl’s mental health and have revealed the different challenges that girls and boys face.  In fact, girls may be more affected by physical exercise than boys. From Her Life Depends on It III, “physical activity helps to significantly decrease anxiety in women, a finding that does not appear in men.” All the more reason to encourage girls to get involved in sports: to establish healthy habits for life! Also, teenage girls also struggle with self-confidence more than teenage boys do. Participating in sports can also help remedy this challenge for girls. 

Overall, the emotional and psychological benefits of participating in sports are nothing to be ignored! Getting girls involved in sports early can help ameliorate some of the serious obstacles of the teenage years.

Sweet! Sign Me Up!

In spite of all of these benefits for girls who participate in sports, there is still inequality in the amount of athletic opportunities offered to girls across the United States. Luckily, Lynchburg Parks and Recreation provides a variety of athletic programs for both girls and boys! Our upcoming program, Youth Basketball, is the perfect opportunity for girls to try something new and maybe even find their new passion.

As the days get chillier heading into winter, indoor basketball is the perfect place to keep the kids active. Registration begins November 1, 2016, with practices held in December and season play starting in January 2017. Click the link below to learn more about our Youth Basketball League and to register your child today!

Learn More about Youth Basketball with Lynchburg Parks & Recreation