Youth sports teams boon to kids

The spring season heralds several things, including the start of many youth-based sporting activities. Little Leagues and Pee-Wee teams all across the country begin anew with eager anticipation from many children.

Participation in a youth league has many advantages for children, primarily in the area of personal health. Playing a team sport is a fun way to introduce regular exercise to a child, which can help battle obesity and promote overall physical health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that obesity has tripled in recent years among the nation’s youth. The prevalence of obesity among chi ld ren aged 6 to 11 yea rs increased from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5 percent to 18.1 percent.

Obesity occurs when caloric intake exceeds energy use to burn off said calories. Instead of hitting the gym, youngsters can take to the field or the court and participate in a sport that will burn those calories and also offer other benefits.

Another advantage to team sports is that they promote social interaction and can help a shy kid break out of his or her shell. Sports teams can boost selfesteem and help children relate to other children.

Even toddlers can get in the act. There are sports teams for very young children if parents do their research. These can teach social skills at an early age and introduce young children to an organized activity and promote teamwork before school starts.

Parents looking to enroll their children in a sports activity can follow these tips.

• Talk to your child and find out what activities he or she is most interested in. Then explore the possibilities in that arena.

• Find out which team activities are available in your area. Consult with other parents to find out what sports their children play and how to sign up.

• Visit the leagues in action and see how the teams play, their equipment and the condition of the fields before signing up.

• Consider the cost and time factor. Team sports require practices, games and often volunteer work from parents. Be sure that the entire family is able to make the commitment to a team sport and cheer on the player. There also may be an enrollment fee or other expenses that come up, such as gear and uniforms.

Be sure that a team sport fits with the lifestyle of the family and is something that the child really wants to do. The spring season can be ideal for getting outdoors and enjoying a sport with teammates.

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2011-06-09 digital edition

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