It’s common knowledge that physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle for growing children and teenagers. But while getting rid of pent-up energy is essential, it can also be more harmful than beneficial if parents are not careful. From staying hydrated on hot days to limiting usage of pain medications, here are some strategies to ensure your child plays it safe when it comes to exercise.

Make Fitness Fun

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), only about one in three children gets the recommended amount of daily exercise. If your children don’t get enough exercise, why not start a family fitness plan? Doing simple things like playing a game of tag or staging an area for running races in your backyard can make exercise fun. Although it might not be a formal activity, lots of so-called play can actually be considered exercise!

Encourage Hydration

When it comes to sports games and practices, kids might seem like they are invincible as they emerge from a football tackle or soccer game tumble seemingly unscathed. But the reality is that kids can suffer from the effects of extreme temperatures. Kids should drink a glass of water approximately 15 minutes before working out. If it is a hot day, they should consume another glass of water about every 20 minutes throughout the activity. This prevents everything from minor dehydration to heat exhaustion.

Wear Protective Gear

If your child is engaged in a riskier activity like skateboarding or hockey, you’ll need to take some precautions to make sure that he or she remains safe. Wearing the right kind of protective gear for the sport can significantly reduce the likelihood of serious injuries. If your child does get injured, you should contact his or her physician for advice on treatment. Since children can be more sensitive to drugs than adults, you should be careful of even over the counter pain medication, which can easily be supplied in too high of a dose for your child to handle safely. There is also research that suggests over the counter pain medication can create long-term adverse side effects, so use your best judgment.

Warm Up and Cool Down

Since children’s bodies are constantly growing and changing, you should make sure they have an adequate period to warm up and cool down before and after exercising. But unlike adults, it only takes a few minutes for children to warm up their ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joints. After exercising, children should cool down for at least a few minutes to physically and psychologically unwind.

Whether your child is engaged in team sports or simply considers exercise to be running around the backyard, it’s essential that he or she gets some physical activity on a daily basis. Encouraging them to be active by exercising with them, or inviting children to participate in your workout routines can be a great bonding exercise. Although exercise is normally beneficial, you must take precautions like limiting pain medication and having your child wear protective gear to ensure safety.