From The Physio: “Why Girls Should Play Sport”

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We can divide the benefits into three basic categories; Physical health, Academic and Psychological.

Physical Health

Playing sport has the obvious effects of helping to control body weight as well as keeping you fit and healthy now, but research is suggesting that it has far reaching effects later on in life as well. These benefits included a decreased risk of getting breast cancer when you are older, which may not be on your mind now, but later on in life it might be. It also decreases the risk of getting osteoporosis, which is the thinning or weakening of your bones. This one is easier to understand as most forms of weight bearing exercise (where your feet are on the ground, unlike swimming or cycling) stimulates the bones to get stronger.

Being fit and healthy through your younger years gives you a better chance of staying fit and healthy when you are older.

Academics

I think that as humans we are born to learn. I’m not quite sure how much we know when we come out of the womb, but we start to pick things up pretty quickly. First by imitating our parents, later by being taught by teachers, and also from the people we surround ourselves with. Somewhere in that timeline sport has a role to play.Sport due to its nature has the ability to teach us many different skills. Skills which you may not learn in the class room, as sport provides a dynamic platform and environment from which to learn. It can teach team work, goal setting, leadership skills, strategic thinking, and how to take calculated risks. These are things which you will need at school, university and when you start working.

Researchers say that girls who play sport generally do better at school, and I guess you could say that it’s not just “a healthy body equals a healthy mind”, but also what skills that healthy mind has picked up while participating in sports.

Psychological

Playing sport and physical activity in general improves your confidence, it raises your self-esteem and supports a positive body image. Now these three points don’t seem so important, but it’s when you don’t have them when they seem huge. And it’s all about how you see yourself and how you project yourself to others.

One of the reports I read talked about why men dominate in the business world, and a reason which was highlighted in that article was because girls play less school sport than boys do. They mentioned a number of points, but there was one that stuck in my mind and they called it the ‘illusion of confidence’. The theory is that boys from a young age are taught through sport that you cannot show fear, let on that you are nervous or display any sign of weakness to your teammates and especially the opposition. So you learn to be calm under pressure, act sure of your abilities and be confident even if you aren’t!

Sport also provides an excellent route to relieve stress. Now don’t get me wrong, if you or someone else is pushing to win win win, then sport can get stressful, but otherwise it is a great way to relieve stress from school or home.

If nothing else, sport has the ability to teach you to win graciously and to take defeat in your stride. Winning and losing has nothing to do with your self-worth as a person, and you will do well to remember this as you go through the many ups and downs that life will throw at you.