How to Get Kids More Involved in Sports

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Even though Latinos come from a rich sports culture, Latino teens in the U.S. are less likely to be involved in sports — and more likely than teens of other ethnic backgrounds to be obese. Daily exercise and organized sports give kids and teens healthy foundations they’ll carry into adulthood. Here are a few benefits:

Improved school performance

During practices and games, kids’ bodies are hard at work. Repeated vigorous exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which helps children focus on learning. During exercise, the brain produces certain hormones that help them feel happier and fight stress.

Exercise = fun

The American Heart Association recommends that kids get at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. After awhile, regular exercise stops being a chore and becomes fun and something kids (and adults!) look forward to. More importantly, it helps children control their weight and reduce blood pressure and their risk of diabetes.

Social, emotional benefits

Sports offer plenty of social and emotional takeaways — even if your kids don’t end up becoming the next Oscar de la Hoya (boxing), Lionel Messi (soccer) or Lisa Fernandez (softball). Playing sports teaches kids about teamwork, encourages leadership, fosters a strong work ethic and provides teammates with discipline and camaraderie. The sense of belonging is great for self-esteem and it helps keep kids out of trouble.

For more information on encouraging kids to be physically active, visit heart.org.

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