Sporty kids - what parents should be aware of when their children take part in sports activities
Unlike adults, children don’t experience the fatigue barrier in exercise and so they can easily overdo it.
The smaller a child is, the greater is the ratio of surface area to body mass. For children skin area is 40 per cent greater than for adults. Therefore there are problems of heat loss and over-heating while they are exerting themselves.
Children don’t have the mechanism which stops overheating and dehydrating which can lead to dizziness and collapse. Even children out on a walk, trotting along beside their parents can be at risk. If a child says he’s thirsty he is already dehydrated.
What most parents don’t realise is that mechanically children’s bodies are not as efficient as adults. Kids need more oxygen in exercise. They are not using carbohydrates but are using up fats and these are an inefficient fuel. Because of this parents should listen to children who are usually very accurate in describing their physical condition. Therefore if a child says he’s tired or hot or that he wants to slow down then he should be allowed to.
On the other hand, a child who is trying to impress may continue doing something even when exhausted. Adults should make sure children take breaks and don’t overexert themselves. Once they have been through puberty they begin to become adults physiologically.
When your child is doing something energetic or participating in a team game make sure:
These children don’t exercise enough and are disinclined to exert themselves. Fat or obese children don’t have a problem with cold but they do overheat.
They will stop exercising sooner than their leaner peers and must be encouraged gently into exercise and should never be ridiculed or made to feel bad about themselves.
Swimming is ideal as it exercises the body without straining it and needn’t be competitive - you can suggest he tries swimming so many lengths in a certain time and improve on this gradually. Give him plenty of praise.
Increasing exercise and activity levels is the best way to help children lose weight and feel good about themselves.