Adolescents more likely to stay in individual sports

By Tom Nordlie • Published: October 26th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Team spirit can be a great motivator for athletes.

Unfortunately, it might not be enough to keep high-school kids involved in team sports.

That’s the conclusion of a study on youth and exercise published recently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

It showed that teens were more likely to stick with individual sports for the long haul.

In the study, researchers tracked almost thirteen-hundred Canadian youngsters from grades seven to eleven.

Initially, almost all of them participated in some physical activity. The researchers tracked boys and girls separately, and kept tabs on twenty-nine types of exercise.

The categories included everything from walking and indoor chores, to football and basketball, to martial arts, skiing and ballet.

The results showed that participation in most activities declined over the five years the students were evaluated.

For team sports, sixty-nine percent of boys and forty-one percent of girls who were involved when the study began kept playing until the end.

But for individual sports, ninety percent of boys and eighty-nine percent of girls remained active.

Workout intensity was a factor, too. Boys were most likely to stick with moderate-intensity activity, girls with light intensity.

According to the researchers, physical activity often decreases sharply during adolescence.

So any strategy to keep youngsters enthused is worth considering.

Maybe promoting individual sports could help.

The idea of being completely responsible for a victory or defeat may resonate with teenagers.

Remember that learning to stand on your own two feet is a big part of adolescence.

And it’s even better if those feet keep moving.