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How Much Exercise Is Too Much?

June 21, 2012

Posted from Staying Active from Play N’ Learn Playground Superstores

Exercise is a hugely important part of life for your children — it keeps them healthy, entertained, and occupied, and it helps promote good habits for the rest of their lives. However, there is such a thing as too much exercise, and though it’s important to make sure your child is exercising, it’s also important to make sure they aren’t overexerting themselves. Here’s how to make sure your child is getting the right amount of physical activity.

Listen to your child. Children understand their physical needs more intuitively than adults do, which means that when their bodies are tired, they will often signal it. If your child says he or she is tired and needs to rest, let them take a break until they’re ready to get moving again.

Make sure they can rest while playing sports. Most of the time, children won’t have a problem taking a break while playing recreationally in the backyard or on a playset, but competitive sports are more likely to push them farther than they are able to go physically. So when your child is playing sports, make sure they have a way to take a break during the game, whether that’s a halftime intermission or substitutes available to switch in and out, and have water for your child to drink.

Don’t work out every day. Children should be careful not to play sports every day; recommendations prescribe a maximum of five days of sporting activity a week, with one day off from any sort of strenuous physical activity.

Beware of injuries. If your child indicates that part of his or her body hurts or that they are feeling overworked, make sure to take heed of that and give them time to rest until they start feeling better. Overuse injuries are a particular concern for children, because with their bodies still growing, they are more susceptible to strain than an adult is.

Remember to prioritize exercise over competition. It’s fine for children to want to win in games they compete in, but only so much as they want to win, and as long as they realize that it’s more about playing the game than winning. What becomes problematic is when adults pressure children into prioritizing winning over having fun and staying healthy; this can lead to children pushing themselves beyond their natural limitations, and ultimately lead to injuries.

No life is complete without a healthy amount of exercise, and especially with children, you want to make sure they are forming habits that they can keep for the rest of their lives. Just keep these factors in mind, and your child will learn to love and value physical activity.

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