In the realm of education, sports play an invaluable role in fostering development among students. Beyond the realm of physical fitness and competitive spirit, sports have a multitude of benefits that extend to academic performance, mental well-being and character building, and social skills. At Aldenham education group, we understand how crucial school sports are, and how they contribute to shaping well-rounded individuals.
Why sports are so important
A recent study carried out by the Youth Sport Trust revealed that fewer than half of all children in England (47.2%) were active for the Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) recommended 60 minutes per day. Around the world, meanwhile, more than a third of students (37%) don’t exercise at school, according to Cambridge International – their recent Global Education Census found that 28% of male students and 41% of female students said that they didn’t take part in school sports. It’s vital that these figures improve, though, because it’s important children are active – and that sports are a vital part of the curriculum.
By encouraging students to engage in school sports from an early age, schools can promote a healthier lifestyle. Regular participation in sports helps children to develop strong bones, muscles and cardiovascular systems. Moreover, it decreases the likelihood of health-related issues like obesity and diabetes. Schools that foster an active lifestyle can instil healthy habits in their students – habits that they can carry with them throughout their lives. Students who engage in sports are more likely to continue leading an active lifestyle as adults, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and improving their overall well-being. Not only do they ensure children stay fit and healthy, but they have a range of benefits that aren’t so obvious at first glance.
Sports’ impact on academics
Contrary to the popular notion that school sports detract from academic pursuits, studies have shown that students who participate in sports often excel academically. While some students can struggle in the classroom, they can often excel at certain sports – and regular physical activity could give them the help they need in the classroom. A study by the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee, for example, found that intensive exercise boosted students’ performance in subjects like English, maths and science. Engaging in physical activities improves blood circulation, leading to increased oxygen flow to the brain, which in turn can enhance cognitive function. Sports and physical exercise have been linked to improved focus, concentration, and mental clarity, which can lead to enhanced academic performance. Additionally, taking part in team sports can also teach students essential skills such as discipline, time management, and goal-setting that can positively influence students’ academic performance.
How sports can teach life skills
Engaging in sports can teach students valuable life skills, and prepare them for life after school. School sports can teach students the values of perseverance, resilience, determination, and discipline, all of which are fertile ground for character development. Students who regularly play sports will learn how to set goals, work towards them, and overcome obstacles along the way. Sports also foster leadership qualities – as well as learning how to be a part of a team and foster relationships, team captains learn how to work as part of a team, make important decisions, and lead by example. The benefits of school sports also extend far beyond their school years. Character-building experiences – on the field or on the pitch – translate into skills that are essential for success in further education and after graduation. Essential skills like discipline, time management, and goal-setting are all sought after by employers.
The effect of sports on mental health
Over the years, studies have shown that school sports can have a significant positive impact on mental health. Playing sports – and engaging in other physical activities – can trigger the release of endorphins, otherwise known as ‘feel-good’ hormones. These endorphins can reduce negative emotions like stress, anxiety, and depression, all while boosting students’ mood and their overall wellbeing. In a survey in 2021, even children agreed about the beneficial effects that sports can have on their physical and mental health – around two-thirds of young children aged 6-8 recognised that being active was important for their future lives. School sports also give students an outlet to relieve any academic-related stress, and teach them how to channel their emotions in a more constructive manner. Playing sports can teach students about the highs and lows of life – sometimes they’ll win games, and other times they’ll lose. By losing games, students can learn how to overcome disappointment, as well as how to channel any negative feelings in a more healthy way.
Sports at Aldenham
School sports have been a part of life at Aldenham for centuries – AEG’s schools have a long and prestigious sporting history. Aldenham School in the UK, for example, was founded in 1597, and is home to one of the world’s earliest football clubs. The students at all of our schools – from Aldenham in the UK to Aldenham Prep Riyadh in Saudi Arabia – are all encouraged to take part in sports, whether that’s in PE lessons, sports days, or extracurricular activities. As well as representing their school in team sports like cricket, netball and football, our students also often perform at a high level in golf and tennis tournaments. Earlier this year, Aldenham’s U14s football team won the Herts County Cup, beating every other team in the county, and Aldenham also offers Sports Scholarships to students who’ve performed particularly well. A number of our alumni have also gone on to excel in sports, including the golfer Matt Wallace and the football Charlie Patino – after graduating a few years ago, he’s already played for both Arsenal and Blackpool FC.
Sports serve as a platform for students to interact and build meaningful relationships with their peers. Whether it’s playing on the same team, competing against each other, or supporting one another, school sports foster camaraderie and team spirit. Sports events and competitions bring together the entire school community, strengthening the bond between students, teachers, and parents – which is what we do at AEG, at all of our schools. Not only do we encourage our students to play sports and represent their school, but we encourage the students who aren’t playing to show up and support their peers whenever they play.
The incorporation of sports in schools is crucial for students’ holistic development. School sports do more than improve physical fitness, after all – there are plenty of long-term benefits, from mental wellbeing to improving social skills. By fostering a culture of sports in all of our schools, we’ve provided our students with a more positive environment and given them the support they need to unlock their talents and hone their sporting skills. To find out more about sports at Aldenham schools, visit the Aldenham School or the Aldenham Prep Riyadh websites.