I wrote recently about the benefits of exercise for children. I thought it would be an interesting follow-up post to look at the benefits of childhood sport that stay with you into adulthood.
1. Enjoying sport
As adults, we are encouraged to stay healthy and active. But if there’s no particular sport that we enjoy, this can be difficult. Let’s face it, going to the gym can be soul destroying – unless you love it. And it’s hard to motivate yourself to participate in any sport if you don’t enjoy it. So knowing that there is a sport you loved as a child can make it much easier to get active as an adult.
Most people go through periods of low self-esteem. Participating in sport can make a huge difference to this. Being part of a successful team, completing a challenge that you never thought you could do. Even just pushing yourself beyond your own physical limits. Each brings with it a sense of achievement that can be a massive confidence boost when you need it.
3. Ease of taking up new sports
If you participated in sports as a child, the likelihood is that you have certain basic skills that are transferrable between sports. This makes it much easier to take up a new sport. A great example for me was taking up water polo when I was in my late 20s. I had always been a swimmer and wanted to try another sport. Whilst I’ll never be brilliant at water polo, it was easy to join in and keep up with the training from the outset.
4. Built in group of friends
If you play sport as a child, you’re more likely to stick with it into adulthood. And when you move to a different area, you can join the local sports club. The likelihood is that within your new team or club, you will meet a group of like-minded people. Most clubs have a social aspect to them that you can get involved in, so you don’t feel quite so lonely at a time when you may otherwise have been alone.
5. Basic level of fitness
Whilst I was very active as a child, I am now guilty of spending periods of time when I don’t exercise anywhere near as much as I should. And yet, when I finally drag myself off the sofa, I always have a reasonable level of fitness. I’ve never been unable to swim or run for an hour, even after a lengthy break.
6. Being competitive
I suppose a competitive instinct could be seen as a good or bad thing. But I see it as one of my positive traits. I was competitive in swimming as a child and as an adult, I’m competitive at – well, everything. I want my work to be the best it can be, if I take on a challenge I’m determined to complete it. And don’t get me started on having to beat my husband at everything…
7. Overall health
A study carried out a few years ago found that people who exercise regularly as children are more likely to do so in later life. There is also a suggestion that they are less likely to become obese and suffer from various health disorders in as they get older.
8. Have active children
However much we tell children that exercise is good for them, children learn by example. So if they see you out running or keeping fit by regularly going to the gym or participating in sports, they are more likely to want to do the same.
9. Coping with failure
In every sport there will be winners and losers. And we can’t all be good at everything. The crushing disappointments are just as important as the confidence-boosting victories, since it is important to learn to fail. Dealing with your first ever failure as a teenager going through exams can be tough. It is much easier to grow up knowing that you win some, you lose some.
10. Career skills
Even if you participate in an individual sport, the likelihood is you’ll be part of a club or team. And you will train together and represent them. Whatever sport you do, you learn teamwork and working together. The likelihood is that as children get older, they will mentor or support younger children within the club. And teamwork and leadership are both important skills that will serve them well in the workplace as adults.