We’re in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic. Unfortunately, various social, technological and economic factors have transpired to provide more temptations than ever to lead an inactive and sedentary lifestyle. Kids are in more danger than ever of becoming powerless junkies addicted to their screens. Video games and social media are a constant temptation that kids take with them wherever they go on their mobile devices and can potentially immerse themselves in further when they get home. The ubiquitous temptation of junk food doesn’t help much either, with so many fast food franchises embedding themselves in school cafeterias.
Many parents turn to sporting activities in order to manage their children’s weight and ensure that they are set on the right path to be fit, healthy and happy adults. However, some sports are better for cardiovascular health (which is essential for a long and happy life), fat burning and the building of lean muscle mass (which will boost their metabolism) than others.
Emotional, social and psychological benefits
Participating in team or individual sporting activities has benefits beyond the merely physical. They can enable kids to develop their cognitive faculties through strategic thinking, they can enhance their leadership and teamwork skills and encourage them to form close knit friendships with their peers through the shared experience.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the best sports for enhancing children’s physical fitness and psychological and emotional wellbeing…
Martial arts and boxing
Although parents may be wary of sports that encourage combat techniques, martial arts are a fantastic way of not only getting kids in great shape (typically burning 700-900 calories burned per hour) but of teaching them discipline, confidence, respect and restraint. Martial arts are varied but all of them from karate to boxing to jiu jitsu burn huge stores of calories by using multiple muscle groups at the same time as well as incorporating fast, explosive movements and fast footwork, ducking and weaving. The grappling arts such as judo, jiu jitsu and good old fashioned olympic style wrestling are also great for building strength without using weights as grapplers push against their opponent’s resistance and body weight.
Look at any soccer team and you’ll notice that the players have uniformly lithe and toned physiques. This is because soccer is one of the best fat burning activities that a kid can engage in, typically burning between 900-1,400 calories an hour. If your child shows little interest in football or baseball, it may be worth checking out a soccer academy like FCB Soccer School fcbcanada.com/en/ to see if they benefit from participating in ‘the beautiful game’. Soccer players are in a constant state of movement, strategically moving and jogging around the pitch with short and dynamic bursts of sprinting when they have control of or are in pursuit of the ball.
Tennis is a sport that’s equivalent to high intensity interval training, as (like soccer) it involves short, frenetic bursts of activity followed by short rest periods. These are the ideal conditions for giving your heart a great workout and burning body fat. It also helps them to build strength and power in their hips, shoulders and forearms.
The great thing about sports is that whatever your child’s skills and preferences, there’s a sport to help whip them into shape and help them to develop socially and emotionally.