Childhood obesity is practically an epidemic in the United States, with nearly 40% of children being in the obesity range as of the year 2012. It is indeed the right practice for parents to encourage their obese children to become more physically active, but how much is too much? As with anything else, too much of a good thing can become injurious. Let us learn more about the risks associated with excessive exercise in children.
This term refers to a feeling that exercise is obligatory and comes before everything else such as illnesses, injuries, homework, or any other forms of activity involving friends and family. Exercising is no longer a fun activity to the child – or even one they do for its sheer benefits – but something they are forced to do out of guilt. In serious cases, children can even suffer from anxiety if they do not get an opportunity to perform some form of exercise on any given day.
This is a phenomenon found in the 21st Early specialization in sports that saw children as young as 6 years old creating a culture of overuse injuries. The Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness under the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a period of at least 2 to 3 months off between the same sport session. At least one day of rest should also be implemented per week of organized activity.
It is also recommended to limit sporting activity to a maximum of 5 days every week with a day of rest. Additionally, athletes need to also rest for at least 2 to 3 months every year away from their sport to allow their injuries to heal, their minds to refresh, and their strengths to develop through conditioning. These processes can help reduce their risks of sustaining injuries.
When children suffer from a burn-out from any form of sport like running or plain exercising, there is a major risk that it is too much for a child to handle. Regardless of whether the child is coerced to perform the activity or does it out of their own accord, the risks still stand. The aim of a physically active childhood is to pave the way towards a healthy lifestyle in the future as an adult.
However, when a child exercises excessively, they risk getting burnt out and suffering from injuries that can lead to the inability to continue being physically active. A burn-out will also cause the body to heal inadequately and the mind to rest insufficiently. We need to bear in mind that exercising is indeed recommended for every child who is not already physically active. It helps to prevent obesity-led illnesses and also improve a child’s cognitive ability. Nevertheless, excessive exercise in plain sight may cause more harm than good onto a child’s overall well-being in the long run.
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