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Diana Weil: Team Sports: Yes or No?

Editor's Note: Diana Weil  is the daughter of Dr. Andrew Weil. Her column is intended to educate and guide our adult audience on how to interact and communicate with children on health and related matters.

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We all know that it is important to get physical exercise. But how can we get enough exercise for it to really count? Perhaps joining a team? Team sports are always a good idea, because there's someone to encourage you and tell you that you're doing a good job and to keep up the good work. I think that really helps. Playing team sports also shows you where you need improvement and how to do just that.

There are some teams, though, that aren't too healthy because they're too competitive for some people. Some of us do really well under pressure and some of us don't. You have to know what kind of pressure works best for your kids. If they are on a team that's too competitive, the competition becomes stressful, and too much stress is not good for our health.

There are many benefits if your kids are on a team that provides just the right amount of competition to get them excited but not stressed. When you exercise, body chemicals called endorphins are released. Endorphins make you feel good and happy. Another positive thing about team activity is the social aspect - your kids will meet other children the same age and can make really good friends.

I'm always too shy to go onto a team not knowing anyone and being all by myself until I meet someone that I get along with. If your child is like this, suggest that they try to convince one of their friends to join a team with them. It's a lot more fun not being alone on the first day if you're shy. On the other hand, sometimes it is good to encourage your child to do the very thing that scares them because it gives them a chance to overcome their fears.

It may be hard to find a team that works for your children. First you have to find out what kind of sport they like. It could be swimming, basketball, football, dancing, or something else. Then if you ask around you will usually get a recommendation from a friend. After you find a likely team you can go visit it and talk to the coach. If you do meet the coach, keep in mind that the sweetest coach might seem to be the best but that a harder one might push your child and make him or her work a little harder.

Diana Dakota Weil

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