Playing and staying active: the keys to a healthy child… but not too active!

28th May 2021

It is well known that childhood obesity is on the rise in many countries. The importance of physical activity for young people is something that everyone seems to agree on. However, few people are aware of the risk of excessive physical activity. Can children have too much exercise?

Children usually enjoy playing outside with friends and participating in various kinds of physical activities. Regardless of the type of physical activity, children seem to be very good at regulating how much exercise they need. This means that a child who has been playing or exercising for a long time will stop once they start to tire, and by doing so, avoid fatigue and the risk of injury.

This natural mechanism of self-regulation can be disturbed when a child starts exercising in organised sports or under the supervision of a coach. Under those conditions, either a coach and/or the spirit of competition with other peers may encourage the child to exercise more than they should, leading to fatigue and an increased risk of injury. Exercise is an ideal way for children to improve their fitness, learn about teamwork and increase their self-confidence. However, if your child seems overly tired after exercising or has lost interest in sports, this may be a sign that they are under too much stress. To keep your children fit, tell them to exercise for an hour every day, and most importantly, always make sure that they are enjoying it.

Arenaza L, Medrano M, Amasene M, et al. "Prevention of diabetes in overweight/obese children through a family-based intervention program including supervised exercise (PREDIKID project): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial." Trials. 2017; 18:372.

Salvy SJ, Bowker J, Roemmich JN, et al,. "Peer Influence on Children's Physical Activity: An Experience Sampling Study", Journal of Paediatric Psychology. 2008; 33(1): 39–49.

John Hopkins Medicine [webpage] *. St. Petesburg. John Hopkings All Children’s Hospital; 2018 [access on 21th of August 2018]. "Compulsive Exercise." Available on:

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