How Much Physical Activity Is Too Much For Children?

How much exercise is too much for children?In the last 30 years, obesity has doubled in children and nearly quadrupled in adolescents, with the U.S. having the highest rate in the world. Physical activity is essential for a child’s cardiovascular endurance, strength, and bone health. As such, parents are often curious as to how much is too much when it comes to physical activities for their kids.

Know When To Stop

Many child fitness experts as well as The Center for Disease Control (CDC) currently recommend 60 minutes per day of physical activity for children ages 7 to 12. Normally, kids are good about regulating their physical activity; they’ll stop when they become tired. Over-exercising in children is often a result of being pushed to keep going by an adult.

Remember, simply asking a child if they’ve had enough of a certain activity is not always effective, though, as children often like to impress coaches and parents and will say they can keep going even if they can’t.

Generally, if a child appears they’re no longer interested or having fun it’s time to stop the activity.

The Dangers of Too Much Exercise

Children who over-exercise face the same injuries or risks as adults such as: over-use and repetitive motion injuries, heat exhaustion. or joint injuries due to fatigue. Another often overlooked problem is burnout. Burnout occurs when a child develops a strong dislike for a particular sport or activity because they have simply been doing it too much and have begun to associate negative feelings with the activity (e.g. they are bored with the game, they are sick of being hot and tired, etc.). It is especially detrimental for kids because play is such an essential part in a child’s physical, emotional, intellectual and social development.

Free Play vs. Organized Sports

While organized sports offer physical activity and discipline, children’s health experts are warning parents about the disappearance of free play. Free play allows kids the opportunity to experience different types of movements, problem solving and social interactions that they would not obtain from organized sports. Although organized sports can be rewarding for children, they should spend more time in free play.
Maintaining a Healthy Diet

It’s important for children – involved in organized sports or not – to maintain a healthy diet. They need to consume plenty of water and avoid excessive amounts of fatty, processed, sugary foods. Children should eat three meals a day – not skipping breakfast – and one or two snacks; this should include five servings of fruits and vegetables and three servings of dairy or equivalent calcium-rich foods. Giving your child a multivitamin can be beneficial, as vitamin D and iron are two of the most common dietary deficiencies in children. However, supplements, besides vitamin D and iron, have no proven benefit to children and should never be given as a substitute for a well-balanced diet.

If you have questions about your child’s exercise and nutrition needs, please give us a call at (239) 573-2001. Our pediatricians are here to help make sure your child is growing up as healthy as possible.

About author MacKoul Pediatrics

MacKoul Pediatrics is an amazing local pediatrics office in Cape Coral, FL where caring, compassionate doctors and nurses work with you to keep your children as healthy as possible. MacKoul cares for children from birth to college age, from Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Naples, and beyond.

May 1, 2018