Basketball, dance, swimming or soccer?
Encourage your daughter to consider playing sports because they can help to:
- Improve fitness – Exercise promotes heart and lung health and helps girls maintain a positive body image and a healthy weight. (FYI: This nation’s childhood obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years.)
- Fend off disease – Strength training and athletics that involve running and jumping improve girls’ bone mineral density, reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. Combining these activities with a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D builds stronger bones. Athletic young women also have a smaller chance of developing breast cancer and depression than their less active peers, according to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health. Studies also show that by staying active, girls can avoid Type II diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and other health problems associated with being overweight.
- Improve mental capacity – Research conducted by the Women’s Sports Foundation revealed that female athletes performed better in school than their sedentary classmates. Girls who play sports are less likely to smoke, use drugs and engage in risky sexual activity than nonathletes.
- Build leadership skills – On the field, female athletes learn about teamwork and emerge as leaders. A 1997 survey by the Women’s Sports Foundation revealed that 80 percent of female executives in Fortune 500 companies described themselves as “tomboys” as girls.