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Leaving anger on the field
Date:7/6/2011

Tel Aviv We know that physical education teaches children about fitness and encourages them to live a healthy lifestyle. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher has statistical evidence that sports participation is also beneficial to a child's cognitive, emotional and behavioral well-being.

Keren Shahar, a Ph.D. student at Tel Aviv University's Bob Shapell School of Social Work working under the supervision of Prof. Tammie Ronen and Prof. Michael Rosenbaum, says that over the course of her study, which included 649 children from low socioeconomic backgrounds, a continuous program of various sports helped improve self-control and discipline and lowered feelings of aggression in the children overall.

Her research was recently presented at TAU's Renata Adler Memorial Research Center for Child Welfare and Protection Conference.

A prescription for a healthier body and mind

"We set out to determine whether sports training would have a positive impact on these children by lowering aggression, and how this result can be achieved," explains Shahar. It would be more effective than verbal therapy, she says, because while verbal therapy encourages children to control their behavior, research indicates that it does not reduce negative emotions. The introduction of sport, however, is able to reduce aggressive behavior as a result of quelling negative emotions.

In 25 schools across Israel, Shahar and her fellow researchers analyzed a 24-week-long after-school program based on sports. Half the participants comprised a control group who did not receive sports instruction, and the other half were systematically introduced to a variety of sports for five hours a week. Three times a week, students ranging from grades 3-6 played group sports such as basketball or soccer. Twice a week, they participated in martial arts, including judo and karate.

After 24 weeks of programming, Shahar compared questionnaires and evaluation
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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