Child Exercise: How Much Is Too Much?
You know it’s good for your kids to get regular exercise but can they get too much physical activity? Orthopedic surgeons say too much or the wrong kind of exercise can harm growing bodies.
That’s because growth plates can be more easily injured or broken during childhood and into the teenage years. Parents need to not only limit how much their children exercise but also restrict certain kinds of exercise.
How Much Should Kids Run?
It may seem like young children are little balls of energy who never get tired. While you may think young kids can safely run for long stretches, their bodies just can’t endure the same distances as teens and adults. It’s best to let kids run until they stop on their own. Don’t push them to go further if they say they can’t. Encourage them to stay hydrated by drinking water and make them stop if they experience pain, dizziness or fatigue.
Middle school aged kids can safely run for distances of up to 10 miles, especially if they participate in competitive track or cross country. However, marathons are still out of the question for kids this age. until they reach the age of 18, kids are at risk for damage to cartilage, tendons and bone platelets. To prevent injury, kids should wait to tackle a marathon until their bodies have finished the most critical phases of growth and development. For most people, this occurs around the age of 21.
Strength Training vs. Bodybuilding
Bodybuilding or weightlifting is dangerous for kids and preteens. Their bodies can’t handle the stress of picking up heavy weights and can become injured very easily.
To build muscle safely, allow kids to do strength-training exercises that rely on their own body weight instead of barbells and machines. Push-ups, sit-ups and gentle calisthenics are just fine for children of any age. Just be certain they warm up for 10 minutes with stretching and low-impact aerobic exercises. You might also consider resistance bands as a way to increase strength without adding undue stress to little bodies.
Most importantly, remember that children’s bodies require more rest. Only practice strength training exercises three times a week and make certain your kiddos get plenty of rest between exercise sessions.
Once a teen reaches high school, it’s safer to lift weights. Even so, make sure your teen exercises responsibly by completing 10 to 15 reps per set and using lighter weights.
Have more questions about kids and exercise? Call our Jacksonville ortho office today for answers!