Physical Activity Benefits: Social Health

Increased confidence, peer acceptance, leadership skills, and empathy; these are just four of the social benefits children receive from sports and physical activity. These four benefits can have a significant effect on a child’s health, happiness, and future. Improved confidence and higher rates of peer acceptance can combat certain risk factors for juvenile delinquency – specifically, antisocial behavior and “low exposure to positive social opportunities due to bullying or rejection.” The American College of Cardiology recently conducted a study that revealed that children with high levels of leadership skills and empathy were “more likely to care about their own health, perhaps adopting life-long healthy behaviors that can prevent heart disease.”

Physical activity delivers social health benefits for adults as well. Improved self-confidence and self-sufficiency can be achieved from participation in physical activity at any age. As adults grow older, physical activity can also provide opportunities for social interaction and can decrease feelings of loneliness or exclusion.

Adults and children alike can reap additional social benefits from physical activity through the impact it has on the community as a whole. By providing opportunities for increased social integration through community walking/bike paths and sports leagues, participating in physical activity can increase the feeling of connection between community members.

The evidence is clear, the positive effects of physical activity go beyond the physical health of the participant to influence their social health throughout their lifetime. These benefits are amplified throughout the community at large through socialization and integration. The next time you need motivation to go for a walk, remember that the short investment of time and energy you put into being physically active will provide significant returns both now, and in the future.