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Youth Sports And Health
taken from Team-Up for Youth

Facts About Youth Sports and Health

Sports programs get kids physically active — a significant step in addressing the steep rise in childhood overweight and obesity and ensuring a lifelong love of physical activity. Physical activity improves overall health, increases longevity, and protects against obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, depression, and anxiety.Exercise and sports participation can also enhance mental health and self confidence.Yet fewer than half of young people, and only a quarter of low-income youth, participate in organized sports outside of school.

 
Childhood Obesity and Related Problems
 
       Today’s children are likely to be the first generation to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents due to obesity and other related diseases.
 
       More than 15% of the nation’s children between the ages of 6 and 11 are overweight, up from just 4% in the 1970s.
 
       One-third of American children and youth are either obese or at risk of becoming obese.
 
       The cumulative lifetime risk of coronary heart disease is likely greatest among those who are persistently overweight throughout their adolescent years.
 
       Approximately 300,000 deaths a year in the US are currently associated with overweight and obesity.
 
       Obesity-related health expenditures have accounted for an estimated 25% or more of national health care spending growth between 1987 and 2001.
 
Inactivity
 
       Physical inactivity can lead to poorer health outcomes for children and adolescents.
 
       The California Department of Education conducts annual fitness tests in California public schools in grades five, seven, and nine. In 2007, only 30% of students were in the healthy fitness zone on all six areas tested.
 
       Only about one-third of children aged 9 to 13 participate in any organized physical activity during their non-school hours.
 
Positive Effects of Youth Sports on Health
 
       Physical activity helps control and prevent a range of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Even small amounts of physical activity can improve health, no matter how much a person weighs or whether a person loses weight.
 
       Adolescents who participate in greater levels of physical activity are less likely to smoke, or they smoke fewer cigarettes.
 
       Female athletes in grades 9 through 12 are less than half as likely to get pregnant as their non-athlete peers, and they tend to have higher self-esteem and more positive body image.
 
       High school athletes are less likely to use cocaine or psychedelic drugs than non-athletes.
 
       Adults are more likely to be physically active during their free time if they participated in organized sports as children.

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