Extracurricular sport in childhood more beneficial for girls

Girls – but not boys – who participate actively in school sports in middle childhood show improved behaviour and attentiveness in early adolescence, say researchers.

“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 do not,” said study author Linda Pagani from the University of Montreal in Canada.

“Surprisingly, however, boys do not appear to gain any behavioural benefit from sustained involvement in sports during middle childhood,” Pagani added.

According to the study, published in the journal Preventative Medicine, ADHD harms children’s ability to process information and learn at school. Sport helps young people develop life skills and supportive relationships with their peers and adults. It offers a chance to get organized under some form of adult influence or supervision.