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Can There Be Too Much Sports for Kids?

Take a balanced approach to exercise by incorporating different fitness elements into your child’s daily activities.

Too much sport for kids?

With today’s easy access to digital devices, it is no surprise that many children now spend long hours in front of a screen. Reports suggest that in fact, 11-year-olds are now as inactive as 65-year-olds – a worrying trend that is leading to rising levels of childhood obesity and related health issues.

On the other hand, there are also parents who encourage their children to specialise in a sport too early. With young athletes like Joseph Schooling coming in top positions in global competitions, is it really a surprise that parents hope their child can achieve similar success, or can gain an advantage when it comes to applying for an elite school? Coupled with increasing pressure from the schools themselves, many children now play a single sport all year round.

So, what are the downsides of specialising in a sport too young? And is it possible to find a healthy balance?

The downside of specialising in one sport too early

While it is a great idea to encourage your child to play a sport, one study suggests sport specialisation at an early age can actually result in a higher risk of injuries due to muscle overuse and repetitive strain. And, if they are pushed too hard too soon, there is a chance your child may experience burnout.

How many adults do you know who continue to take part in and enjoy the sport that they were pushed to do when they were a child? Not many – and burnout could be the cause. This same study also shows that sports specialisation in children results in an increased risk of lower body and leg injuries.

It’s all about balance

So, if too little or too much of one sport are both problems, then surely there must be a happy middle ground? There is – and that’s why it’s better to focus on an overall balanced approach to fitness for you and your children. Instead of pushing them towards one sport at a young age, you can encourage them to try different sports, and eventually, they may settle on one or two that they love!

Fitness, by definition, covers many things, including agility, balance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, muscular strength and more. The next time you go for a run or head to that Zumba class, think about the various elements of fitness. Are you covering all of these when you exercise?

The elements of physical fitness

1. Agility: This is the ability to move in different directions rapidly in a zig-zag manner. It is an essential skill for team sports, ball and racquet games, but also important when trying to avoid people while walking quickly in a busy mall!

2. Balance: Key for children practising gymnastics, this is the ability to control and being aware of the body’s position either while moving or stationary. As your child gets older, good balance will come in handy when standing in a moving bus or elevator.

3. Reaction time: This is how quickly your child can react or move, and it’s a particularly useful skill when they need to sprint after a ball or even swerve to avoid colliding with an obstacle while walking.

4. Cardiovascular endurance: This is how well the heart, lungs and blood vessels work together to move oxygen around your child’s body during exercise. Running is one of the best exercises for building cardiovascular endurance.

5. Flexibility: While most children are naturally flexible, it is common to lose this with age. Both you and your child can maintain flexibility with some simple stretching exercises.

6. Muscular strength: This is how much force a muscle can produce, usually measured by how forcefully a muscle contracts to enable you to push, pull or jump. It is always useful to be stronger at any age, but there is no need to embark on an exhausting strength training programme too early.

Try to incorporate these fitness elements into your child’s daily activities or training programme for a more balanced approach to exercise.

Want to find out more? Visit the Kids in Motion workshop on 27 January 2018

If you or your child actively participate in sports, why not discover new ways to develop balance, flexibility, strength and more? Join our workshop on 27 Jan 2018, where you and your children can practise your skills by taking part in fun games. You will also learn the best way to run, how to improve your posture, and techniques to exercise injury-free.

More details of the upcoming workshop can be found on http://gleneagleskids.eventbrite.sg


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