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5 benefits of participating in school sports

Updated: June 12, 2014 10:49AM

From buzzer beaters to stolen bases, the excitement and anticipation of a close game can often leave athletics' other benefits lingering on your blind side. Here are five major perks that prove participating in school sports is more than merely fun and games.

1. Broader friend groups

Finding friends in the classroom can be a challenge, and even the most outgoing may find they socialize with only a small group. However, according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, participating in sports can introduce students to both a wider selection of their peers and students from neighboring schools.

2. Effective weight management

Although perhaps the most obvious benefit of participation in school sports, the effectiveness of athletics in weight control remains significant. In a study published in Pediatrics, researchers discovered that adolescent participation in two sports teams annually could reduce obesity's prevalence by 26.1 percent.

3. Perceived improvement of high school experience

Much of life is mind over matter, and a study from the University of Northern Iowa demonstrated that 92 percent of participants believed that involvement in sports positively impacted their high school experiences.

4. Greater long-term physical activity

Fitness is a marathon not a sprint, and school sports can be a crucial step on the path to lifelong wellness. BMC Public Health published research purporting that participation in high school varsity sports was a stronger predictor than all other factors in determining physical activity as participants aged.

5. Positive correlation with grades and attendance

While it can't be proven that one factor necessarily caused the other, a study at Florida International University discovered that athletes at public high schools on average earned better attendance and higher grade point averages than their non-athlete peers.

Meatheads respects the value school sports add to education and lifelong health, and it honors high school athletes that live up to the values of determination, hustle and hard work through the Meathead of the Month program. To help Meatheads in its promotion of active youth, vote for this month's nominees or visit your local Meatheads for more information.

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