Nine in 10 Americans recognize that sports offer a way to help youth stay healthy, learn teamwork and exercise responsibility, reports a 2011 survey by the American College of Sports Medicine. Sports pursued at any level can also help prevent obesity and enhance self-esteem. Participating in sports when you're not healthy or in a careless way can have seriously negative effects, though. Simple strategies such as wearing proper safety gear, respecting a game's rules, fueling and hydrating properly and warming up before play allow you to benefit from sports to the fullest.
Any health issue, from being underweight to having a physical injury, can impair your performance. When you're healthy, you're simply able to perform to the best of your capabilities. If you're ill, even with a passing cold or the flu, failing to give your body a chance to rest may prolong the illness, Dr. Rick Kellerman told CNN. In extreme cases, exercising while ill can lead to complications such as a weakened heart. Proper fueling and hydration strategies help ensure optimal health when you play. Without enough food or liquids, you may become weak or possibly suffer dehydration during a game.
Safety rules implemented during sports help prevent unnecessary accidents. Following rules can prevent players from colliding during play, for example. A field that's lit safely and thoroughly prevents tripping. In certain sports, particularly those performed in the water or when moving at high speeds, safety rules can prevent serious accidents such as drowning or crashes. Wearing appropriate and well-fitting safety gear, such as face masks and helmets, also prevents serious injury when accidents do happen.
Injuries result from accidents, but they can also result from playing sports when you're not in your best health. If you're injured, but refuse to rest, you may end up exacerbating the injury -- or experience a compensatory injury in another area of your body. Trying to come back too soon from an injury can make an injury worse. If you come back to play too soon after a concussion, for example, you may put yourself at greater risk of incurring another concussion, and possibly set yourself up for brain injury.Playing a sport at a level at which you aren't conditioned can also cause injury. If you have doubts about your health, get a doctor's clearance before participating in sports.
Particular Attention To Youth
Safety and health are particularly important to respect when it comes to children's sports. Kids are still growing; improper form, injuries or undo stress can negatively affect the process. The American College of Sports Medicine reported in 2011 that sports injuries, especially among youth, are on the rise with approximately 2 million injuries reported among high school students alone. Half of all injuries suffered by youth under the age of 14 could be prevented with appropriate safety gear, safer playing environments and adherence to rules that protect from injury, contends Johns Hopkins Medicine.