Sports and Good Health

Sports can keep you healthy, just don’t overdo it

Not only are sports a great way to get fit and stay healthy, they teach teamwork, sportsmanship,
competitiveness, as well as how to be a team player and achieve goals. Plus, you make friends and have fun!

A downside of playing sports, however, is when playing is expected of you, especially if you’re winning.
Coaches and parents can sometimes pressure teen athletes to over train, which can lead to injuries
(sometimes serious ones), not to mention emotional burnout. As in most things, balancing sports with
schoolwork, friends, family time and other activities is what’s important.

The benefits of aerobic exercise though sports

Optimally, participation in sports should include aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate
and breathing. Regular athletic workouts improve the efficiency of the cardiorespiratory system
and makes you fitter (meaning, your heart and lungs don’t have to work as hard to meet your
body’s increased demands for freshly oxygenated blood).

Aerobic exercise also affects body weight composition by burning excess calories that would
otherwise get converted to fat. In general, the more aerobic an activity, the more calories are
expended. It’s important to choose a sport or sports that you like, but ones that provide excellent
aerobic workouts include running, swimming, soccer, biking, basketball, football, baseball,
lacrosse, hockey, horseback riding and tennis.

Sports-related concussions

Every sport carries some level of risk. Not all concussions can be prevented, but some can be
avoided. Helmets should always be worn for bicycling, horseback riding, skiing and any
collision sports. Athletes should be taught safe playing techniques and to follow the rules of the
game. Most importantly, you need to let your coach, athletic trainer or parent know if you have
hit or landed on your head or if you show symptoms of a head injury, even if it means stopping
play.

Symptoms of concussion:

  • Headache or pressure in your head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Double or flurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish or groggy
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Confusion, clumsiness

If you feel you may have sustained a concussion, we urge you to come into one of our offices of Westchester Health Pediatrics and let your pediatrician examine you. We might recommend a few days’ rest and a break from sports, but if there is injury to the brain, it’s very important that we evaluate you right away.

Growing pains and sports

In spite of the name “growing pains,” there is no firm evidence that growing pains are linked to growth spurts. Instead, they may simply be muscle aches due to overdoing an intense physical activity, such as running, jumping or climbing. They seem to be more common after a kid has a particularly full day of sports. They can come and go, and might last for months or even years. Most kids outgrow growing pains within a few years.

In general, growing pains are felt in both legs, especially in the front of the thighs, back of legs (calves), or behind the knees. In some cases, the pain is due to bones growing faster than the ligaments and tendons that connect them, usually in the legs.

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we urge you to come in and see us if you’re experiencing pain like this. To help alleviate the pain, we might suggest certain stretching exercises, a break from sports, or in severe cases, medication.

We’re here to help, and to listen

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we want you to know that we care about you and the choices you make, as well as about your health. We invite you to come in and talk to us about sports, your body, fitness, your team, anything at all — we’ll keep it confidential.

Most of all, we want to help you be healthy and happy and feel good about yourself in any way we can.