Students who participate in sports learn a variety of important skills beyond an athletic ability. They can learn teamwork, working to accomplish a specific goal, how to lose gracefully, and focus and concentration under pressure. In addition to all of these important skills, students get the added benefit of exercise.
Exercise can immediately improve mood and stave off depression over time. The Anxiety and Depression Association of American cites studies that found people “who got regular vigorous exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over the next five years.” Mayo Clinic points out that exercise releases “feel-good” brain chemicals such as endorphins, which can improve your mood in the moment. Elevating your body temperature through exercise may also have a “calming effect.” This calming effect can relieve stress and help you focus.
The American Psychological Association links exercise with improving the body’s ability to respond to stress. Some studies have found that norepinephrine is released during and after exercise and that this neurotransmitter may inhibit neurotransmitters that cause a physical response to stress.
While sports are a fun way for many teens to get exercise, not every teen enjoys organized athletics. Don’t force organized athletics if it is not something your child enjoys. The added pressure of a team sport may increase stress rather than relieve it. This doesn’t mean they can’t be active. Encourage your teen to take a walk around the neighborhood, or better yet offer to go with them. A bike ride, jog, or game of frisbee with friends are all great ways to get exercise. Whether it is an organized sport or something else, help your teen discover what activity they enjoy and then help them make time for it.
Daily activity reduces stress, improves mood, and relieves anxiety. Exercise can also improve concentration and focus. Making time for daily physical activity can lead to better grades and a more enjoyable school year.
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