Girls taking part in sports events can do wonders, says new study

Chennai: A new research has found girls who actively participate in school sports events in middle childhood show improved behaviour and attentiveness in early adolescence.

The study, which was published in Preventative Medicine, confirms the benefits of extracurricular sport.

Linda Pagani, a professor at Université de Montréal’s School of Psychoeducation, said, “Girls who do regular extracurricular sports between ages 6 and 10 show fewer symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at age 12, compared to girls who seldom do.”

Pagani, who led the study co-authored by her students Marie-Josée Harbec and Geneviève Fortin and McGill University associate medical professor Tracie Barnett, said, “Surprisingly, however, boys do not appear to gain any behavioural benefit from sustained involvement in sports during middle childhood.”

As the team prepared their research, “it was unclear to what extent organized physical activity is beneficial for children with ADHD symptoms,’ recalled Pagani.
‘Past studies have varied widely in quality, thus blurring the true association between sport and behavioural development. On top of that, past research has not acknowledged that boys and girls are different in how they present ADHD symptoms.”

ADHD harms children’s ability to process information and learn at school, Pagani said. Sport helps young people develop life skills and supportive relationships with their peers and adults. It offers a chance to get organised under some form of adult influence or supervision.

“Thus, from a public-health perspective, extracurricular sport has the potential to be a positive, non-stigmatizing and engaging approach to promote psychological well-being and could thus be viewed as behaviour therapy for youth with ADHD,” Pagani added.


NT Bureau