March 8 is International Women’s Day, and while celebrating strong, healthy women is part of what we do daily, we’re very excited for this holiday.
When you see young girls and women achieving goals through sport, the historical context of women being expected to be frail and submissive gets turned on its head.
The benefits of sports are no longer an exclusive club for boys and men. With federal law requiring equal representation for males and females in education, there has been a tangible boost of women in athletics. Countless benefits have been acknowledged for women who are active. Let’s explore five of them:
1. Empowerment/Confidence: In a society rampant with body shaming, now is the time for women and girls to shift their views of themselves. Taking part in sports is proven to reinforce positive body image and self-esteem. It can take a girl who is unsure of herself and turn her into someone who takes charge. Bottom line? We love empowerment.
2. Physical & Mental Health: For generations, women were encouraged to avoid physical activities, which science revealed as the cause for weakness and frailty later in life. Sport decreases the effects of diseases like osteoporosis and lower chances of breast cancer. Females who play sports also tend to have lower levels of depression.
3. Goal Setting: Sports teach teamwork and resilience. Goal-setting is a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to inter-personal relationships and career success. This skill is taught early-on in sports through the reinforcement of the importance of practice and small attainable goals involving improvement in their team position.
4. Pressure Loses its Power: We all have bad days, or days where our “To-Do” list trumps our happiness. But when pressure is applied over time through involvement in athletics, it loses its potency. Performing under pressure becomes exciting and enjoyable. Competition is a natural part of many aspects of life, and these young athletes find themselves adapting much faster.
5. Work Ethic: There is perhaps nowhere else that someone can truly be pushed to their physical limit than in sports. When athletes are too tired to carry on, that’s when true magic happens. The discomfort is no longer scary, and team loyalty encourages new levels of achievement.
Through activities like group exercise, team sports and events like Girls on the Run and Girls Just Want to Have Fun, the Mayerson JCC is putting empowering activity into the daily lives of our female members.
Conquer your fears and take a ride in our spin classes. Get on the dance floor and into Zumba. Whatever activity you pick up, you’ll be sure to find countless reasons why you feel stronger and more powerful.
*Facts adapted from Women’s Sports Foundation’s document, “Benefits – Why Sports Participation for Girls and Women,” 2011.