Social skills are skills humans use to interact with other individuals, both verbally and also non-verbally. These skills are extremely important for human interaction, having a major role on building strong relationships, communicating well, having greater efficiency, building a successful career and also increasing happiness. Although every person knows how to socially interact with one another to some degree, some people don't have the same skills as others, showing themselves as shy, lacking confidence, or afraid of someone else's judgment. Others may even have mental problems that affect their capacity of interacting with other people, as in the case of autism, down syndrome, for example. Even though these traits and situations make social interaction harder for some people, there are a lot of ways to improve social skills, and one of them is the practice of physical exercise and sports.
According to the National Center of Biotechnology, the practice of physical exercises is responsible for decreasing certain traits and mental disorders that make social interaction harder for certain people by reducing anxiety, phobias, hostility, tension, dysfunctional and psychotic behaviours, and depression. Further research gathered by the same source involved two groups of children with autism, in which one of the groups would be submitted to a structured physical activity program during 12 weeks and the other group wouldn't, contrasting the difference between the social interactions of these two groups by the end of the research. At the conclusion, significant differences were noted between the two groups. The group that practiced the physical activity program had a positive outcome compared to the control group, where all of the children involved in the program improved their overall scores of communication on the Social Skills Improvement System, and learned at least 7 important items of communication, such as doing eye contact while speaking, saying "thank you", and others.
Additional research regarding the impact of physical activities was done by the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, which relates how the practice of sports affects the behavior of shy and anxious children. The research was undertaken with 201 schoolchildren with the average age of 10 who performed sports, leading to a positive outcome. The shy kids that practiced sports reported more assertiveness and positive effects on well-being, self-control, peer self-esteem, and physical appearance than non-participant shy children. This shows that by the practice of sports these children were able to minimize the negative consequences of shyness, and improve their social skills.
- 2011-2020, (c) Copyright skillsyouneed.com. “What Are Social Skills?” SkillsYouNeed, www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/social-skills.html.
- Mandolesi, Laura, et al. “Effects of Physical Exercise on Cognitive Functioning and Wellbeing: Biological and Psychological Benefits.” Frontiers in Psychology, Frontiers Media S.A., 27 Apr. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5934999/.
- Zhao, Mengxian, and Shihui Chen. “The Effects of Structured Physical Activity Program on Social Interaction and Communication for Children with Autism.” BioMed research international vol. 2018 1825046. 15 Jan. 2018, doi:10.1155/2018/1825046, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5820623/
- Findlay, LC and Coplan, RJ. 2008. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 40(3) 153-161. Summarized by: https://www.sportengland.org/research/benefits-of-sport/the-value-of-sport-monitor/psychological-health/