Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Scientists have discovered a way to help parents of teens develop confidence, improve their physical, mental, and emotional health and have fun all at once. It’s called sports. Results may include alertness, reduced stress, a powerful boost in their self-esteem, improved teamwork skills, better sleep, and a reduced risk of substance abuse.

While being physically active every day is excellent for your pre-teen or teenager, there are many questions and concerns that parents often battle. Below are answers to these questions as well as the reasons why science is awarding teen sports and exercise three consecutive gold medals in all fields of health.

1. Physical Health

What you see: Their face turning beat red, sweat drops soaking through their clothes, and their breathing becoming faster and heavier.

What is happening:  Exercise is delivering oxygen and nutrients to their tissues and helping their cardiovascular system work more efficiently. The increased blood flow is raising the oxygen levels in their body. This helps lower their risk of heart diseases, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, and heart attack later in life. The more they engage in exercise and sports the better it is for their physical health. Regular exercise can also lower their blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

2. Mental Health

What you see: Your teenager is holding their head up a little higher, engaging more with peers, is better able to deal with stress and having less mood swings.

What is happening: 

• According to WebMD, sports is helping your teen manage stress. Exercise is causing their body to release endorphins, the chemicals in their brain that relieve pain and stress. It is also reducing the levels of stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline.
• Your teen is also developing teamwork skills. Sports is teaching your teen how to work with others and learn how to utilize different players strengths and weaknesses and develop the best strategies to work together to accomplish a common goal.

3. Emotional Health

What you see: Your teen is becoming more aware of their emotions. They are able to turn to healthier coping strategies to help overcome and accept their feelings and manage their emotions.

What is happening:  Due to the nature of wins and losses involved in playing sports your teen is developing ways to manage and process these constant highs and lows. In turn, they are becoming more and more mindful of the strategies that help them overcome and manage them.

Q & A

Will being involved in sports hurt my child’s grades?
Numerous studies show that team sports, individual sports and exercise in general result in higher academic performance. According to Angela Lumpkin, professor of health, sport, and exercise sciences. Rebecca Achen, doctoral candidate and graduate teaching assistant at KU, “Involvement in interscholastic sports has a positive impact on high school students. As such, participation should be encouraged, especially for high-risk populations and specifically for minority students.” Mike Krings KU News Service, The University of Kansas, https://news.ku.edu/2014/01/15/ study-shows-high-school-athletes-performed-better-school-persisted-graduation-more-non

Do sports help students stay off drugs?
While many studies have shown that sports and physical exercise help lower the risk of illegal drug use, other studies link sports participation with higher risks of alcohol use, anabolic steroid use, and opioid abuse. The truth is, there is no easy answer to this question. The best way parents can help discourage substance abuse in their teen athletes is to become aware of the environment and values surrounding the team in which their child is participating and ensure that the teammates and coaches are positively influencing them.

How often should my teen engage in physical activity?
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years should do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to vigorous physical activity daily.

At what age is it safe to start incorporating weight training into their routines?
• As reported by the Mayo Clinic, children as young as 7 or 8 can start strength training as long as the child is mature enough to follow directions and practice proper technique and form. Light resistance and controlled movements are best for kids, emphasizing proper technique and safety.
• As children grow older and become teenagers, it’s still important to take it slow and build gradually, focusing on good form.
• More advanced teens can use free weights or machines to train their muscles.

How do I help my teen deal with the emotional highs and lows of winning and losing?
• Winning and losing are part of playing sports. It’s one of the main reasons encouraging your child to participate is beneficial. A win in sports, just as in life, is rewarding and can help your teen develop confidence in themselves. However, losing a game can conjure hard feelings of frustration, sadness, and embarrassment. A loss can be an excellent time for parents to take the reins and help their teens deal with this vital life lesson.
• One of the best ways parents can help their teens is to become aware of the pressures they may be putting on their children to win. Jim Thompson, the author of The High School Sports Parent and founder of the Positive Coaching Alliance, advises parents to remember to be thoughtful when you address talking to their kids about their performance. “Win or lose, remember to tell your teens that you enjoy watching them play and that their performance doesn’t affect your feelings for them.
• Another great way to help your teen deal with a loss is to ask questions. Understanding what triggered the most challenging feelings for them during the game or the loss can help parents find a starting point to assist them in dealing with the intense emotions.

Supporting and encouraging your teen to play sports and exercise can be one of the leading components in helping them continue to stay active throughout life. Sports and physical exercise can provide a sense of connection to the world, be an outlet for stress, and a time to make friends. The best way to encourage your teen to continue to love sports and stay active is to remember to keep it fun and let them PLAY.


Carolina Droze is a LSIS presenter of K-5th programming, freelance writer and  copywriter. She is also a mom, wife, surfer, nature enthusiast and a lover of loud music and dancing like she just don’t care.