A member of the University Band walking off the field after the opening ceremonies at Rice Eccles Stadium. September 10, 2016 Adam Fondren

Keeping kids busy with an array of activities provides them with a well-rounded social life. Children will have opportunities to expand their interests and realize who they are, who they could be and who they want to become.

Growing up, I knew many teenagers who were actively involved in both sports and student government. Those teenagers all ended up going to college and graduating. This may not be the situation in all cases, but from what I have noticed, teens who stay active and do good in the community are typically the ones who best cope with anxiety and depression.

A 2015 study published by professor of biology Theodore Garland concluded, “If kids exercise regularly through the school years, then they may be more likely to exercise as adults, which could have far-reaching positive effects on human health and well-being. Our results suggest that any positive effects of early-life exercise on adult exercise propensity will require reinforcement and maintenance if they are to be long-lasting.”

This study found that along with physical activity, having a spirit of adventure would also assist the healthy development children’s physical and mental health.

Keeping busy is the best way to stay happy and motivated. The quote, “an idle mind is of the devil,” is relevant in this case. The people I know who stay busy are typically the happiest. Their mind can’t dwell on negative thoughts if they are busy doing positive activities. Your mind is tremendously powerful and can go to dark places if you give it control.

Some parents disagree. They feel that pushing a child to stay active and involved causes unnecessary stress and can have the reverse effect, making the person resent being involved or being active. Parents also fear their children will experience failure, which they believe could lead to low self-esteem. This philosophy will only leave children stunted, both mentally and emotionally. Challenging them is the best possible way to provide opportunity for growth.

The key to helping youth stay motivated is not pressuring them too hard. People who have strict parents typically rebel, feel inferior or feel they will never be good enough. Keep in mind that encouraging youth to be competitive isn’t the best thing. Some of the unhappiest people I have met are competitive and feel like they lack something in every area. Positive reinforcement is the best way to keep people motivated.

According to Betterhealth, “Evidence suggests that physically active children are more likely to mature into physically active adults.” Betterhealth cites a parent’s own physical activity and their interest and passion in activities is the best way to influence a child.

An active and involved youth will manifest great personal attributes that will become useful in the future. Some of these include leadership, teamwork, a healthy lifestyle, educational benefits, discipline, respect and trust. These characteristics will lead to success in the future. By staying active and involved, teens will learn how to be social in different settings and figure out more of who they are and what they want in life.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

@TheChrony

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