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10 benefits of childhood sport that stay with you into adulthood

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.

2. Confidence

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.

So you know that exercise is good for children. But did you know that as your kids grow up, the physical activity they did as children will have a huge impact on their health and fitness as adults? Here's why.

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…

So you know that exercise is good for children. But did you know that as your kids grow up, the physical activity they did as children will have a huge impact on their health and fitness as adults? Here's why.

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.

So you know that exercise is good for children. But did you know that as your kids grow up, the physical activity they did as children will have a huge impact on their <a health and fitness as adults? Here’s why. ” />

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.



  1. June 6, 2017 / 12:32 pm

    You’re so right about all these. I didn’t have much opportunity to get involved in sport when I was young, and I do regret that now. I want it to be different for my kids!

    • June 11, 2017 / 7:51 am

      That’s a shame and I think it is easier now for children to get involved in sport.

  2. June 6, 2017 / 2:35 pm

    I had never considered just how many positive aspects there are. We wanted our kids to be active so it was just the norm – not when they got to our age and thought that they ought to do something.

    • June 11, 2017 / 7:50 am

      Yes that’s such a good point, it’s easy to feel like we’re just doing it because we should as adults.

  3. June 6, 2017 / 3:00 pm

    Love this! There really are so many benefits. I hadn’t considered all of these, but they make a lot of sense. My husband goes quite long periods without exercising, but like you can then easily cycle for an hour or run several miles. I was never competitive as a child, it was only meeting my husband and having kids that made me competitive! I was competitive for them first, which became competitive for myself too 🙂

    • June 11, 2017 / 7:47 am

      Oh isn’t that funny that you weren’t competitive as a child. Definitely competing with husbands is the ultimate competition though!

  4. June 7, 2017 / 4:39 am

    Hi Nat, I love posts like this. I think it’s safe to say that our children are growing up in a world where it’s easy for them not to be active, so it’s up to us parents to encourage them.My daughter is highly competitive and whilst sport is not a thing here in school, it is what has got her out running with me for the past couple of years. Unfortunately this year she won’t be able to as she has started work, but she still works out at home.

    I am a great believer that learning to lose is the secret to being a good sports person (did you see Jonny Brownlee in the last World Series Triathlon? It bought a lump to my throat!).

    Being more active will give them more energy too (maybe it’s not such a good idea then!).

    My husband is like you and can go ages without running with no problem. I only have to miss a week and it feels like I’m back at square one!


    • June 11, 2017 / 7:46 am

      Yes, there really are so many benefits to being fit and I agree that learning to lose is so important.

  5. June 8, 2017 / 7:01 am

    So true Nat! All of these points are great, I know that the group of friends one has helped so many children as they grow up to feel part of something and adults who have gone to continue with the sport it’s a great way to make friends x

    • June 11, 2017 / 7:39 am

      Thanks Laura. It really is a great way to make friends, even now I go to water polo if I’m feeling a bit lonely because there are always friends there to chat to.

  6. June 12, 2017 / 8:08 am

    Great points, Nat! We are definitely a competitive family, particularly me! My husband is probably the least competitive and often rolls his eyes at me trying to win everything, ha ha. Sports are definitely a great way to make friends, although I don’t play any team sports now, I used to love it. 🙂 x

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