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updated: 5/21/2013 10:49 AM

Sporting All The Benefits

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Megan Balas (Student of Saint Viator High School)

Since Michelle Obama arrived at the White House, she has dedicated herself towards the "Let's Move" initiative. The focus is to reduce childhood obesity so children can grow up "healthy and able to pursue their dreams." The Let's Move campaign recommends children aerobically work out for at least 60 minutes a day, and include muscle strengthening activities, such as gymnastics or push-ups, at least three days per week as a part of the 60 or more minutes of physical activity. If this sounds like a lot, consider the fact that adolescents spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media including TV, computers, video games and cell phones, and only one-third of high school students reach the recommended levels of physical activity.

Playing a sport not only lowers the obesity statistic but produces muscle strength, a healthy circulatory system and reduces the likelihood of diabetes. According to Better Health Channel, children engaged in a sport have a better night's sleep, in addition to the reduction of emotional problems such as anxiety and depression. As someone who has participated in competitive athletics since the age of 3, I can tell you it has not only promoted a healthy and physically activity lifestyle, but by playing sports, it has taught me how to be competitive, show sportsmanship, and interact with others. Playing a sport promotes the development of social skills and because of that, children learn not only how to interact with other children, but also how to respond to coaching and direction. Knowing how to take direction is proven by to promote leadership skills, team building, and ultimately proper communication skills, essential for the years ahead.

Although some may argue sports take away from children's study time, children who participate in athletics excel in the classroom as well. Scott Lancaster, the senior director of youth football development for the NFL and author, says that the most successful students are able to establish a positive balance between athletics and academics. Student athletes naturally acquire the ability to prioritize their time; just like at practice an athlete follows a regimented schedule to be efficient and successful at the task at hand. Athletes can apply the same discipline when approaching their studies. Children who are regularly coached treat teachers like they would a coach; allowing correction and encouragement so they can reach the most of their potential. Children have the advantage of applying their discipline, motivation and dedication behaviors learned on the field, towards their academics, producing positive results.

Beyond the hour of fun, playing a sport is overall beneficial for your body, mind, and academics. Physical activity is an essential component for a healthy lifestyle As Michelle Obama said, "The physical and emotional health of entire country and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake" so do not put your life at risk of serious health issues, and just get moving!