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Beyond the Game: Developing the Mind through Team Sports

This post has been guest written and sponsored by Cooper Fitness Center. We’re happy to partner with this local organization to bring you this information. 

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Unhealthy kids are growing into unhealthy adults, causing a major health care problem in the United States.

A Mental Reason to Avoid Childhood Obesity

When it comes to helping kids form healthy habits, it’s best to start young. Studies have shown different types of exercise affect a child’s mental capacity in a variety of ways. A simple 20-minute walk can immediately affect a child’s attention, function and academic success. Alternatively, higher intensity exercises seem to build a child’s attention span gradually over time.

In addition to healthy habits, team sports build confidence and provide children the opportunity to form friendships with other children and their coaches, which is a great way to expand their social skills and understand expectations.

Shoot Some Hoops

coleman-crawfordCooper Fitness Center Basketball Pro Coleman Crawford brings more than 40 years of coaching experience to the table, including coaching at four NCAA schools, on top of an impressive playing career at the University of North Alabama. From coaching youth/teen clinics to collegiate teams to NBA Development League and international teams, Coleman is passionate about developing players at all levels.

Basketball training for children improves balance and coordination and develops concentration and self-discipline. Basketball Pro Coleman Crawford acts as both the referee and coach at his clinics and lessons, helping the players develop their fundamental skills as well as game strategy, which is essential for their critical thinking skills. As another reason to play sports, children who are physically fit perform better on attention tests–even small improvements in fitness lead to noticeable changes in the brain.

cooperfitnesscenter-coleman-huddleMore Fit = Improved Academic Performance

Various studies have linked academic performance to overall health and fitness in children. Data taken from students in California show the following relationships between fitness and academics:

  • Higher levels of fitness = increased math testing scores
  • Higher levels of fitness = increased language arts testing scores
  • Healthier lunches = increased math and language arts testing scores
  • Higher levels of fitness = higher school attendance rate
  • Higher levels of fitness = fewer negative school incidents

A study of more than 2.4 million Texas students found that students who are physically fit are more likely to do well on the state’s standardized tests and have higher school attendance. Physically fit students are also less likely to have disciplinary problems. The Cooper Institute developed FitnessGram, the first “student fitness report card,” in an effort to improve school physical education programs and children’s health.

“The impact exercise has on the growing brain is unparalleled,” says Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, founder and chairman of Cooper Aerobics. “Increased exercise improves cardiovascular health, and that helps the brain function more efficiently and enhances its ability to learn.”

cooperfitnesscenter-coleman-groupIt is recommended that students perform at least 60 minutes of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity every day, with more than half occurring during regular school hours and the remaining outside of school. Estimates suggest only about half of U.S. children meet this guideline.

Cooper Fitness Center offers a variety of after-school youth programs to help kids get up and moving while boosting their brain power. Your kids can join Coleman Crawford for his “Get Your Game On” basketball clinics and Holiday Basketball Camps in December at Cooper Fitness Center. 

Learn more about sport-specific programming and other youth programs at

Find Cooper Fitness Center on Facebook & find Cooper Aerobics on Facebook & Twitter.

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Meredith Rosson_6786_2013_5x7Meredith Rosson is the Assistant General Manager of Cooper Fitness Center. Meredith studied Exercise Physiology at University of Texas at Austin and has played an integral role in developing the Cooper Youth Programs since 2006.

Coleman Crawford is the Basketball Pro at Cooper Fitness Center, instructing youth basketball programs including clinics, shooting school, future stars and junior academies, as well as private, semi-private and group sessions for adults and youth.

Cooper Fitness Center has offered youth programs for more than 25 years and provides a variety of year-round programs including basketball, swimming, tennis, boxing, martial arts, soccer and other seasonal programming. Download the full Youth Programs Guide and register online at

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