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HomeHealthKidsYou Go, Girl: How Sports Benefit Girls

You Go, Girl: How Sports Benefit Girls

girlssportsGirls playing sports isn’t an anomaly anymore—in fact, nearly every staffer at “Chesapeake Family” played competitive sports growing up.

The benefits of girls playing sports include boosts to their mental, physical and even financial capacities. Girls playing sports are less likely to get pregnant, more likely to go on to college and are more likely to succeed in careers traditionally dominated by men.

There are many benefits to girls playing sports.

My Body, Myself

Obviously, playing sports is going to encourage girls to exercise, which reduces the change of obesity. However, weight loss is not—and shouldn’t be—the major reason girls play sports. Regular exercise regardless of body type promotes a healthier immune system, stronger bone density (which may head off osteoporosis later in life) and may even reduce pain from menstrual cramps, writes Dr. Lyle Micheli, who’s with the Division of Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston.

Playing sports may even improve your daughter’s chances of avoiding breast cancer. Girls who play sports tend to begin menstruating a little later than inactive girls; studies have shown that for every year menstruation is delayed, the risk of contracting breast cancer as a woman is reduced by five to 15 percent.

Female athletes are also less susceptible to eating disorders, though this is less true in the so-called “body sports,” most notably gymnastics, swimming, figure skating and tennis. “Any sport where girls’ bodies seem in some way to be exposed or on display” is a high-risk ground, according to Gil Reavill, author of “Raising our Athletic Daughters: How Sports Can Build Self-Esteem and Save Girls’ Lives.” Even if your daughter is not playing a “body sport,” be aware of practices that might push girls towards losing weight in an unhealthy weight. For example, some teams may use body fat measurements to check for fitness, which might spur girls to try to be as skinny as possible.

Female athletes tend to delay sexual activity and, when they are sexually active, are more likely to use contraception. According to a report by the Women’s Sports Foundation, Female athletes were less than half as likely to get pregnant as female non-athletes, were more likely to be virgins, were more likely to delay intercourse, and had fewer sex partners.

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