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Exercise for Kids: When to Rest and When to Push Through

Remember how much energy we had growing up? Children play hard at recess, push themselves vigorously at sports after school and finish off the night with roughhousing at home, and they still have energy left to burn! As adults, we know sometimes it is best to push through something like a hard day at work to get the recommended exercise needed to live a healthy life. However, we also know when rest is more important than exercise, like when we're sick. The same is recommended for children, even if they seem to be bursting with energy.

When Children Should Rest

Sometimes, all our bodies need is rest. Here are some examples of when children should rest instead of pushing through to get exercise.

When They are Sick

When your child is sick with something serious, like the flu, exercise should be completely avoided. Look out for symptoms like fever, wet coughing or light-headedness before letting your loved one participate in physical activity.

When They are Out of Energy

Overexercising is difficult to notice in children, because as we all know, their motors never seem to run out of gas. However, parents should stay in-tune to how much physical activity their child is getting to ensure they don't injure themselves. Once your child seems to be out of energy, encourage rest and relaxation to avoid exhaustion.

Signs and symptoms of overexercise are persistent muscle soreness, lack of motivation, persistent fatigue and chronic overuse injuries.

When Their Muscles are Sore

If your child is feeling soreness when exercising, rest is recommended to let muscles recover. For example, if your loved one took part in intentional strength training by doing chair squats and is feeling soreness the next day, encourage them to rest so their muscles can grow stronger with adequate time to heal.

When Children Should Push Through

For both children and adults, sometimes pushing through something like a minor cold or a bad day at school and getting a healthy amount of exercise is just what our bodies need to feel better. Here are some instances of when children should push through a difficult time and exercise.

When They Have a Minor Cold

So long as parents are cognizant of how unwell their child is feeling, something minor, like a runny nose, should not deter them from exercise. Afterall, physical activity strengthens children's immune systems. If your child is dealing with something like a minor cold, encourage them to take it a little easier at recess that day.

When They Had a Bad Day at School

A bad day at school may seem like the end of the world to a child, but instead of letting them come home to sulk, parents should encourage them to get some physical activity. Exercise is proven to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve mood, so after a tough day, a little bit of exercise will work wonders for any upset child.

To lend an ear to your loved one so they feel supported after a hard day, try participating in some form of physical activity with them to give them an opportunity to talk while getting exercise. Ask them to join you in shooting hoops or in going for a walk and let them know you are there to hear about their troubles.

When They are Feeling Shy or Nervous

Making new friends is difficult at any age. When children are starting on a new sports team or at their first day of recess at a new school, engaging in physical activity with a group of strangers may cause them to want to play it safe and not participate. Parents should help their loved ones face their fears by encouraging them to join in to help build confidence in themselves. Check out this article on making new friends for tips for your loved one!

Sports and Fitness Pediatrics