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Health Note: Student Athletes Need a Break

Health Notes Archives - Click HereBy Christina Elston

In our obesity-plagued society, no one can doubt that sports are good for kids. But student athletes who indulge in too much of a good thing can wind up injured - or just burned out. A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns families against too much sports training and not enough rest.

A bone, muscle or tendon that is repeatedly stressed and not allowed time to heal can become injured. And the risk to child athletes is higher because their growing bones can't handle as much stress as those of adults.

The report recommends that student athletes:

  • Limit training in any one sport to five days a week, with at least one day off from all organized physical activity.
     
  • Take two to three months per year off from each individual sport.
     
  • Limit increases in training time, the number of repetitions or the total distance to 10 percent weekly.
     
  • Join only one team per season.

Symptoms of sports burnout include chronic muscle or joint pain, personality changes, elevated resting heart rate, decreased sports performance, fatigue and difficulty completing ordinary activities. Fun should be the focus of sports activities, along with skill and sportsmanship, the AAP asserts. Students who are in the game for fun - not in hope of making a professional league or Olympic team - are less likely to overdo it and more likely to stay healthy.

Christina Elston is a senior editor and health writer for Dominion Parenting Media.

Posted June 2007.

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