A New Study Reveals Playing Sports Can Make Kids Smarter!
A New Study Reveals Playing Sports Can Make Kids Smarter! There have always been character-building benefits to playing youth sports, like learning how to be a good teammate and learning how to win and lose graciously. And SO many more (see below). There’s also been a long history of research about the physical and mental health benefits of sports, including research by the National Institute of Health that children who play youth sports have lower rates of anxiety and depression, girls have fewer drug and alcohol problems, and get better grades. Now, a recent study conducted by neuroscientists at the University of Eastern Finland revealed there are cognitive benefits for young athletes as well.
The study followed a group of 504 children aged 6 to 9 over a period of two years. What they discovered was eye-opening. Children who dedicated more time to reading and participating in organized sports showed significant improvements in their memory and learning abilities to those who focused on other activities, such as unsupervised computer time or unstructured play. The researchers also found that combining increased sports and reading time with a healthy diet featuring low-fat dairy products and less red meat or sausage had an even greater impact on cognition.
Don’t get too hung up on the ‘organized sports’ aspect of this study; unstructured play is vital, too. It enables the use of a lot of different muscle groups, leads to independence and creativity, and allows our kids to explore their imagination and develop a well-rounded set of skills. The key is finding the right balance between structured and unstructured activities to provide our children with the best opportunities for growth and learning.