Learning About Health and Physical Activity

Sports are activities of an athletic nature that involves contact or competition with an object or group of objects and involves a physical challenge and the application of physical power, whether through sprinting, tackling, punching or throwing. In sports (or physical sports) there is normally some element of skill and sportsmanship which is necessary for the activity to be completed successfully. Sports can be of any level from amateur recreational sports involving individuals at a low professional level, to professional competitive sports involving teams of athletes at a high national or international level. There are several different types of sports, which could be considered, with football being the most popular and followed by basketball, tennis, cricket, golf, swimming and the motor sport racing.


As a part of the sport (and therefore a physical activity) there is the opportunity to develop, test and improve one’s skills, conditioning or physique. Sport (or physical sports) is broadly divided into two main categories: physical contact sports and performance sports. Performance sports refer to those requiring great speed, athletic ability, and the ability to perform difficult or demanding physical tasks or physical exercises. These types of sports also frequently involve contact sports which require the engagement of the entire body.

Performance sports involve very intense physical challenges and the competition to succeed often involves great skill, sporting aptitude, physical strength and body composition. It was not that long ago when the term “Olympic” referred only to the sporting events that had been held in Olympic Stadiums and the term was not used to describe other competitive sports. Today, Olympic Games is an international recognized athletic activity open to all nations. An Olympic event can be divided into sports of a general nature, such as track and field, swimming, diving, gymnastics and fencing. It can also be further broken down into sports specific to a particular discipline, for example swimming, rowing, swimming, basketball, baseball and so on.

The discipline of sport can be broken down into specific sports with respect to the physical activities involved and the degree of skill required. Physical activities include athletics, which includes football, soccer, tennis, bicycling, track and field and racing. Sports that focus on motor skills are known as motor sports. Cycling, rowing, swimming and skating are examples of common motor sports. Sports which are characterised by the use of skill in overcoming situations are called acrobatics. Track and field are perhaps the best example of an athletic activity which requires both skill and speed and has developed specifically for use in competitive events.

Youth, especially young people, tend to take part in less physical sports than adults and this may explain why participation in recreational sports is less amongst this age group. However, even among this group there is considerable growth in the number of people playing sports on a regular basis. Some forms of exercise such as gardening, dancing, yoga and Pilates are becoming popular as sports for young people. It is apparent that there is a link between health and physical fitness and levels of general confidence.

Participation in sports provides young people with an excellent opportunity to learn about their own physical nature, body differences and how other people respond to their physical attributes. This in turn helps them to identify their own limitations and ability. This is important because it enables them to develop and refine their own skills in a safe and controlled environment. It teaches them to respect other people and to take responsibility for their own actions. In the process they develop personal responsibility, which is vital in later life and forms the basis of a healthy self image.

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