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Soccer and Fitness for Youth

October 11, 2004 10:00 PM
 
There are several health and fitness related benefits to playing soccer.  In an age where 5 to 25 percent of America’s youth are obese (Dietz, 1983), a growing problem exists among our youth.  In a joint effort, Youth Soccer Month has partnered with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness to help educate and promote the sport and all of its benefits to young and old alike.
 
The messages of Youth Soccer Month mirror those of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports - the importance of physical activity and fitness and exercise and their link to good health. It also furthers President Bush's vision of a healthier United States, where citizens are physically active every day, value nutrition and avoid risky behaviors.  Each week during Youth Soccer Month, a different message will be the focus of communication and programming:
 
Week One (September 8) - Fitness:  The health and fitness (physical, psychological and social) benefit of playing soccer.
 
In the 1950s, the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness launched the first national effort to encourage young Americans to be physically active, with a strong emphasis on participation in team sports.  Many Americans may be surprised at the extent and strength of the evidence linking physical activity to numerous health improvements. Most significantly, regular physical activity greatly reduces the risk of dying from coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Physical activity also reduces the risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, and colon cancer; enhances mental health; fosters healthy muscles, bones and joints; reduces the risk of obesity; and helps maintain function and preserve independence in older adults.
 
“There are too many sedentary children today, as adults we know that there is a greater likelihood that obesity beginning even in early childhood will persist throughout the individual’s life,” said David Messersmith president US Youth Soccer.  “These kids need to be active and soccer is a great start!”
 
The average American child spends several hours each day watching television; time that in previous years might have been devoted to physical pursuits. Obesity is greater among children and adolescents who frequently watch television (Dietz & Gortmaker, 1985), not only because little energy is expended while viewing but also because of concurrent consumption of high-calorie snacks. Only about one-third of elementary children have daily physical education, and less than one-fifth have extracurricular physical activity programs at their schools (Ross & Pate, 1987).
 
US Youth Soccer, the largest youth sports organization in the country with more than 3.2 million players annually, has spearheaded the National Youth Soccer Month recognizing the impact and importance the sport plays in the day-to-day lives of America’s soccer families.  US Youth Soccer programs provide a fun, safe and healthy environment for players at every level of the game. 

Youth Soccer Month will also highlight the various programs available to children interested in participating in soccer, including the inner city, special needs, recreational and elite soccer programs that have facilitated the growth of the sport at all levels.
 
For more information on Youth Soccer Month visit www.youthsoccermonth.org.
 
For more information on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports visit www.fitness.gov.
 
For more information on US Youth Soccer visit www.usyouthsoccer.org and check the regional map for local programs in your area.
 
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