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National Youth Sports Week

National Youth Sports Week

An estimated 45 million kids in the U.S. participate in youth sports every year, and they're starting younger than ever. Gymnastics classes are available for kids still in diapers and the SoccerTots® franchise caters to kids as young as 18 months.

National Youth Sports Week this July 15-21 is designed to draw attention to the rewards of participation for kids of all ages. And now a new study suggests another benefit: sports may actually make kids think faster. The study in the Journal of American College of Sports found that athletes appeared to have a faster processing speed than non-athletes, likely due to regularly making split-second evaluations and decisions.

A New York Times piece on the study notes that it's possible that the athletes always had advanced processing abilities and that's what made them better athletes, rather than the athletics turning them into faster thinkers. Either way, the study shows that better athletes have faster processing speed.

This is something brain training students have realized for years. Students who come to LearningRx for academic reasons routinely report improvement in sports. LearningRx brain training strengthens their cognitive skills (including processing speed) and they, in turn, become better athletes, reporting they can read the playing field more clearly, quickly and fully, think several moves ahead, and focus longer. They also report better hand-eye coordination, better mastery of the playbook, and even better balance.

Aside from the newfound mental benefits of sports, the physical benefits of exercise are well documented. According to the American Heart Association, physical activity helps control weight, reduce blood pressure, and reduce the risk of certain cancers and diabetes. To get those benefits, the Centers for Disease Control recommends children and adolescents get at least one hour of physical activity each day.

If your kids are having trouble meeting that goal, consider an organized youth sport. Aside from the physical benefits, (and newly realized mental advantages) participating in youth sports can build self-esteem and confidence, leadership skills, and self-discipline. It can also teach the value of sportsmanship, teamwork, time management, perseverance, cooperation and more. Plus, and perhaps most importantly for kids, it can be a whole lot of fun. (Even if they're too young to tell you so!)