Encouraging your child to join a sport when they are young is a pretty common conversation in most households. The physical activity they will get from playing a sport, whether it’s baseball, hockey, soccer or basketball, is likely going to be good for them. As parents we’ve often seen just how well our little ones sleep after a busy day full of sports activity.
But there are some health benefits that are a little bit harder to notice at first glance… The positive affect that sports activity has on brain health is a factor that shouldn’t be overlooked! A child’s brain benefits significantly from pretty much any sports activity, so keep that in mind next time you encourage them to join up.
Top ways sports improve brain performance
Sports improve how the brain actually functions by increasing blood flow and producing proteins & cells that benefit their memory and nervous system. They can also provide mental health benefits that are harder to see, but no less important to a young athlete.
At Burlington Basketball, we get kids running and having fun no matter what program. We build friendships, athletes and most importantly healthy habits!
Sports improve mood & concentration
Physical activity, whether on a basketball court or soccer field or just in a gym lifting weights, triggers certain brain chemicals like dopamine and endorphins to be released. Endorphins, known as the ‘feel good’ chemical, help relax the body allowing the brain to concentrate better.
Playing sports helps push the brain to develop critical thinking skills and mental focus, especially in timed sports like basketball.
Sports increase the sense of community
Team sports like basketball force kids to learn how to work together which helps boost their sense of belonging. Feeling like they are part of a team allows kids to relax, decreasing their overall stress levels. When their mind isn’t stressed about fitting in or finding a community, students are better able to focus on things like school work, life at home and just generally having fun.
Increased growth of new brain tissue
Studies have shown that when a person engages in regular aerobic exercise like jogging, swimming or hiking, their brains are able to grow new tissue at an increased rate. This new tissue helps with the formation of memories and improved overall brain health.
Athletes have ‘larger’ brains
When people regularly engage in moderate physical activity- similar in intensity to most team sports- the parts of their brain that are in charge of thinking and memory tend to be bigger and therefore stronger.
Sports can reduce stress and depression
Another chemical called serotonin is released when the body is pushed to exercise. This chemical is responsible for decreasing feelings of depression. Even if your child is fighting to stay on the couch and hide out, getting up and being active- even for a short time period- can help them beat those low moods.
Team sports are also inherently responsible for making the child feel like part of a community. Feeling like they belong somewhere is a good way to fight some common causes of stress in young kids as well.
Removing focus from daily stressors like school work and forcing the attention to be on the sport they are playing helps to force their brain to retarget its’ efforts into the game, allowing the stressor to not feel as significant.
Playing sports results in improved sleep habits
Just as when a young child sleeps well after a busy and active day, so do older kids. Spending time on the court helps the body to work off excess energy resulting in it feeling more relaxed and able to sleep well. This means kids can usually fall asleep faster and sleep deeper after playing sports.
Sports boost self-confidence
As a player’s skills and abilities increase, so too does their self-confidence. Knowing that they are able to achieve goals within the sport lends itself to an increased confidence in other areas of life, too.
Get Youth Playing More to Boost Brain Health – Now!
The benefits of playing sports and getting active are obviously many, especially when it comes to brain health. Not only is the brain typically physically healthier when the body takes part in regular physical activity, its mental state tends to also improve.
Help keep your child’s’ brain healthy and strong and basketball is a great way to do it! By getting them out on the court often! Even just a daily game of pick-up basketball with friends will have significant benefits to their overall health.