With schools rightfully trying to reduce the spread of the virus, they’ve changed the traditional models of high school physical education classes and athletics, even going so far as to have "home gym" and cancel entire sport seasons. Sports have such a big impact on young people -- it helps them build confidence, foster self-reliance, and develops teamwork & communication skills that will carry over for the rest of their lives. Not only these negative consequences, but there are also negative physical developmental consequences.
The regression, delay, or lack of pacing of physical development can have MAJOR impacts on your child's ability to get playing time in high school sports, can increase their likelihood of injury, and could have long-term health consequences through lack of lean muscle mass and decreased hormonal markers.
Here are three ways your child may be physically impacted by not participating in sports or Physical Education classes in general.
As the body grows taller and bigger, the brain and nervous system need to keep pace; it keeps pace through movement, playing outside, sports, and lifting.
Demands on joints have increased because the bones have gotten longer, muscles longer, and tendons carrying more load. The brain needs to have a better neurological connection to the muscles and tendons in order to properly move, absorb force, and prevent injury.
Young athletes' brains and nervous systems need to learn how to absorb their increased weight in running, cutting, or landing, or absorb external forces without an injury occurring.
High school is pivotal for growth and maturation of the athlete. Limiting access to sports, PE classes, strength training, and even opportunities to play and be agile (you know, being a kid), high school athletes are not putting on muscle and thus hampering their hormone profile and future growth as an athlete.
Athletes with less muscle mass are not as fast, not as agile, and more prone to injury. You know what that means? Less playing time for your child when sports DO get back up and running. So not only would they be out one year, but possibly two or three because they weren't keeping pace with their peers.
Not only that, muscle mass helps regulate hormones, increases metabolism, and lowers risk for chronic disease later in life. Setting a good foundation now, is very important for long-term health.
Ever see lanky kids with no coordination? It’s because their brain hasn’t been trained to move the increased frame yet. If kids have gone through a significant growth spurt during lockdowns and haven’t been moving over that period of time, the body will have an even HARDER time coordinating movements, which leads to less playing time or, even worse, injury.
The body responds to stressors put on it and if there is very little movement, the body’s growth can’t be supported by muscles and joints that haven’t been worked. I once had a 15 year old client who could barely jump because he had been so sedentary, his body couldn’t and wouldn’t let him do it trying to protect his joints! Imagine if he tried to shuffle side to side, what that would do to his ankles, knees, hips, and back!
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!
SET THE EXAMPLE -- as a parent you should be building tree forts, tinkering in the garage, going for bike rides, lifting weights, challenging yourself physically.
Get your kid moving -- get them out of the house in to some sunshine for at least 30 minutes a day
Set scheduled time allotments and limits for screen time -- or incentivize them with screen time in exchange for some outdoor activity.
Hire a private strength and conditioning professional to help train your child, especially if they are an athlete. A strength coach, a gym, and a structured lifting class can be a great environment for the kid to let loose, connect with others, challenge themselves, and build work capacity for the field and for life. See if other parents want to hire a strength coach together to help cut down on the costs.
Physical fitness and preparedness of our youth is a long-standing issue. Indeed, even President-Elect John F. Kennedy wrote about the dangers of Soft Americans.
Many of the routine physical activities which earlier Americans took for granted are no longer part of our daily life. A single look at the packed parking lot of the average high school will tell us what has happened to the traditional hike to school that helped to build young bodies. The television set, the movies and the myriad conveniences and distractions of modern life all lure our young people away from the strenuous physical activity that is the basis of fitness in youth and in later life. - JFK
If you are interested in learning more about how to keep your child active, subscribe to my newsletter or call me for a consult. I'd love to help your child stay strong, get strong, stay healthy, get healthy, but most importantly develop GRIT, WORK ETHIC, and SELF-RESPECT that will be the building blocks for the rest of his or her life.
In this video a recent high school graduate jumped in with me and my friends for an outdoor workout at the track with battle tire, ring push ups, tire hammering, kettlebell swings, push presses, box jumps. All sorts of good work!! Want your kid to train like this??? Want your kid to be an absolute hammer?? HIT ME UP!!