Just in time for the start of your kids' spring sports, the April issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine contains new guidelines for parents and physicians about keeping kids healthy and safe as they participate in team sports.
A few highlights:
Younger children are at higher risk for injury related to organized sports, so they may need modified guidelines for playing in certain sports to reduce the chance of injury. Guidelines such as no headfirst sliding in baseball and no bodychecking in hockey are examples of modifications to reduce injury among younger players. Other safety guidelines can include smaller playing fields, shorter game times, and matching opponents by weight rather than age.
Parent participation in their children's sports is important, but too much emphasis on competition or performance may rob children of the opportunity to learn that sports and exercise can be fun.
Sports are a great way to complement, not replace, regular exercise that is part of free play, child-organized games, recreational sports, or physical education classes. Some sports practices may not provide the full recommendation for daily exercise. A recent study in this month's Archives found that some sports practices did not meet the daily guidelines for exercise. The researchers concluded that teaching coaches and parents about providing opportunities for both exercise and sports experience for all players may help improve children's fitness.
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