Now a Tel Aviv University researcher has presented statistical evidence that sports participation is also beneficial to a child’s cognitive, emotional and behavioural well-being.
Keren Shahar, a Ph.D. student says that over the course of her study, which included 649 children aged between 8 and 12 and from low socioeconomic backgrounds, a continuous programme of various sports helped improve self-control and discipline and lowered feelings of aggression in the children overall.
The research team conducted a 6-month after-school sports programme in 25 schools throughout Israel. Half of them were placed into a control group with no sports instructions, while the rest took part in a variety of sports activity five times a week.
Two of the weekly sessions consisted of martial arts, while the other three were team sports, such as football or basketball. Children ranged in age from grades 3 to 6.
At the end of the six months the researchers found that such traits as self-control, self-observations, problem solving skills and delayed gratifications all improved significantly and there were definitely fewer incidences of aggression.
The boys responded much more strongly to the sports programme than their female classmates, the study revealed. In fact, among the girls there was no statistically significant change. The researchers believe that girls do not tend to have the same aggression issues as boys do and are less likely to be passionate about sports.
The research was presented at Tel Aviv University’s Renata Adler Memorial Research Center for Child Welfare and Protection Conference.