At the White House childhood obesity summit held last April, First Lady Michele Obama launched the Let's Move campaign to inspire healthier environments in schools and communities and to teach kids the vital skills of wellness - exercise and healthy eating. I recently spoke with Gregory Chertock, sports psychologist, fitness trainer, and baseball coach specializing in elementary and middle school youth, on how exercise/sports impact the development of children."Exercise training can teach kids powerful life skills that go beyond excelling in a sport," says Chertok.
Sports training – either structured exercise or an actual sport can nurture invaluable mental skills: the
ability to self- monitor, relax in response to performance anxiety, or learn how to respond to failure.
Chertok notes that nationally, 50 to 70 percent of kids drop out of sports by middle school due to not
being able to live up to parent or coach expectations. “The best evaluation of success in exercise/sports
is the happiness scale, not the performance scale," says Chertok.
In his work with exercise programs for children struggling with obesity, Chertok again notes the skill benefits, “Yes, kids learn how to eat healthy and exercise, but they also learn how to set
goals, de-stress and how to gain support from a group.” Weight management and health are critical
goal points, but at a time of development where kids’ minds and bodies are changing rapidly, exercise and sports training can offer the intangible gain of emotional resilience, a lasting benefit which can be transferred to social and academic realms of life.
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