Recreational sports are one of the most common activities amongst youth in America. 69.1% of children play team or individual youth sports. But what makes them so popular? Well, for those involved in youth sports between ages 5 to 18, the benefits range from improved cognitive and social function to future career success. In fact, these benefits transcend the age range of “youth” into adulthood. So what makes recreational sports so important for youth and adults alike?
Studies show that children who participate in sports between ages 6 to 12 have 40% higher test scores, 7-8% higher lifetime earnings, are 15% more likely to attend college and a significantly lower instance of obesity. These benefits are also reflected in adults who partake in organized team sports.
Those who participate in recreational sports often exhibit improved self-esteem and reduced stress. Having fun and working up a sweat with friends is good for the mind, body and soul no matter the age. Team sports allow adults to recapture a passion for competition, reinvigorate a stale workout routine or simply make new friends.
One of the chief benefits of recreational sports for both youth and adults is the social aspect of playing on a team. It provides a space for meeting new people while contributing to long-lasting physical fitness. Getting into and staying in good shape is more than a goal – it’s a lifelong journey. A team can make the workouts feel less like an obligation and more of a social activity or pleasant experience. Often, those who are active in recreational sports find fun and competition more valuable than the exercise benefits.
Though research shows that fitness results vary by individual, there are valid socio-emotional and cognitive health benefits to participating in group athletics at any age. According to Dr. Bowen White, physician and founding member of the National Institute for Play, participating in “play”, as it refers to recreational sports, is ingrained in our evolutionary drive to survive. So much so that it releases dopamine and decreases blood pressure. He mentioned that recreational sports help us connect with other people because there is a vulnerability associated with the social aspect of team sports. Instincts tell us that team members and opponents are safe people to be around and, therefore, we let our guard down.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Similarly, only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week. So what makes adults stop “playing”? The reasons range from lack of time or access to facilities, in addition to health issues. However, Kansas City residents will have an answer to at least one of those excuses; access to facilities.
Bluhawk, a mixed-used development in Overland Park, seeks to ensure that wellness benefits of recreational sports are a central part of its community. The development recognizes that, in order to live a holistic lifestyle, people must actively work to build connections. For this reason, Bluhawk will feature a Sports Park. This indoor, multi-sport complex will be the ideal home for youth and adult recreational sports, as well as competitive tier 1 amateur sports.
With 425,000 square-feet of sports and fitness opportunities, Bluhawk Sports Park will be unparalleled in delivering world-class instruction within state-of-the-art facilities. Bluhawk Sports Park will feature a 3,500-seat Civic & Community Center/Arena with two NHL regulation size ice rinks and a training rink, 8 basketball courts, 16 volleyball and pickleball courts, indoor turf fields and a 12,000 square-foot American Warrior Ninja training course. It will offer classes and training for more than 35 sports. The facility will provide access to those who would like to participate in youth or adult recreational leagues. It will serve as a reminder to the surrounding community to play, no matter what age.