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This National Youth Sports Week: Get Out & Get Active

This National Youth Sports Week: Get Out & Get Active

July 15-21 is National School Youth Sports Week. The National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) and the Congressional Caucus on Youth Sports designated this awareness week to showcase how youth sports organizations and members of Congress can collaborate to promote healthy lifestyles for children and their families through participation in sports. Frederick Regional Health System (FRHS) is delighted to join the celebration and encourage all parents and caregivers, Frederick County Public Schools, and local organizations to help young people get involved!

The Benefits of Youth Sports

Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence is important for lifelong health and well-being and preventing serious health conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 should have at least 1 hour or more of physical activity every day. This should include participation in aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening, and bone strengthening at least 3 days a week.

That being said, only 21.6 percent of children meet this goal. Regular physical activity helps children improve their cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing serious health conditions now and later in life. These conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes

When Congress recognized this week in July as National Youth Sports Week, it was stated that, “Youth sports play an important role as the conduit through which children learn important life lessons, values, compassion and good ethics, and it is that relationship between sports skills and life skills that provides our young athletes with the fundamentals they need to succeed both on and off the playing field.”

Physically active students tend to have better grades, school attendance, memory and concentration, and classroom behavior. Regular physical activity through sports promotes positive mental health, improves sleep, boosts self-esteem, and teaches children about teamwork and problem-solving skills.

The school day is traditionally a sedentary setting away from home, so adding physical activity during the day is a great way to get kids up and moving while enhancing their academic performance. Schools are well positioned to provide time for organized and free-time physical activity, including physical education, recess, breaks during scheduled classes, intramural sports, and more. This may include walking or running, bicycling, swimming, jumping rope, active play games, resistance exercises, and organized team sports such as basketball, track, and more.

Looking for ideas to get your kids active through sports? Check out this infographic.

10 Tips for Youth Sports Safety

While the health benefits of sports are undeniable, young athletes are often at risk for sports-related injuries and challenges. In the U.S., about 30 million children and teens participate in some form of organized sport. About one-third of all injuries that occur during these early years are sports-related, primarily sprains and strains. Most occur on the playground, on the sports field, or on a bicycle, and most involve contact or collisions.

Lack of education and awareness of safety precautions coupled with potential injuries, a shortage of adequate equipment, and poor conditioning can all cause injuries. If your child currently plays sports or is starting a new one, consider these 10 safety tips first:

1. Get a physical.
Your child’s sports journey shouldn’t start without one. To make sure your child is physically fit and capable of playing a particular sport, they should have a sports physical. During the physical, a healthcare provider will determine physical strengths, weaknesses, and other conditions that may determine which sports they should or shouldn’t play. It’s important to also discuss your child’s medical and family history with your provider. Now is the perfect time to schedule an appointment before the start of the new school year (and various sports seasons).

2. Stay hydrated.
Sweat lost during sports must be replaced with equal amounts of water each hour. That means your child should drink plenty of water before, during, and after each game or practice. Bring a water bottle to all practices and games. Dehydration may cause stomach cramps, extreme thirst, weakness, headaches or dizziness, and other unpleasant symptoms. Avoid carbonated or caffeinated drinks that cause dehydration. Find more tips on proper hydration here.

3. Get plenty of rest.
If lack of sleep can impact your child’s cognitive performance and focus in the classroom, imagine the harm it can cause when you throw in physical activity and some sports equipment. Your child should get plenty of sleep at night and appropriate rest during games and practices. They should also take time off when moving from one sport to the next, in an effort to prevent overuse injuries.

4. Warm up and cool down.
Don’t forget to stretch. Stretching before practice and games can release muscle tension and help prevent sports-related injuries, especially muscle tears and sprains. Block off 10-15 minutes before and after games and practices to stretch. For a deeper stretch, consider a yoga or Pilates class.

5. Share all emergency contact information.
Before your child’s first practice, their coach should have all emergency contact information for parents, guardians, and doctors, as well as their medical conditions and treatment. Sharing this vital information not only helps to prevent injury, but also complications or miscommunication if accidents occur.

6. Check your equipment.
Make sure that your child uses the right protective gear for all activities, including helmets, wrist guards, and knee/elbow pads. Schools, coaches/training staff, and parents/caregivers should monitor the selection, fit, function, and proper maintenance of athletic equipment. All equipment should be in good condition, fit appropriately, and worn correctly at all times. If there are any missing or broken straps or worn padding, for example, replace and/or repair before they do more harm than good.

7. Stick to a healthy, balanced diet.
Physical activity burns calories. That’s why your child needs a well-balanced, nutritional diet for energy and sustenance to get them through those tough practices and grueling games. Carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats all provide the fuel your child needs for physical activity and sports participation. (Need a few tips for healthy school lunches to pack the day of a big game or practice? Check out this article.)

8. Pay attention to form and technique.
Young athletes should learn proper technique for their sport from their coaches, as many injuries occur because of improper training or form. For example, the proper way to tackle in order to avoid a concussion or how to extend your arm to avoid pulling a muscle while throwing a ball. Know the rules of the game, too. Establishing and adhering to these rules can help prevent severe injury.

9. Recognize the signs of injury—and get help immediately.
Did you know that 1.6 to 3.6 million recreational and sports-related concussions occur each year in the U.S. alone? It’s one of the most common types of sports-related injuries. If your child plays a contact sport like football, make sure they know the symptoms. This goes for other sports-related injuries, as well. Often, coaches and other staff members are certified in proper first aid and CPR, and team doctors and emergency personnel are on-site in case of emergency. While these are helpful precautionary measures, your child should know when something doesn’t feel right. As a rule of thumb: when in doubt, sit it out.

10. Follow (and help to enforce) all safety rules.
Your child’s playing environment should be well lit and safe for their sport. It never hurts to check that all facilities are regularly inspected and maintained, routinely cleaned, and accessible to reduce accidents, injuries, and the spread of disease. Encourage your child to take breaks (as needed) while training, practicing, and engaging in actual gameplay to help prevent overuse. Become familiar with your child’s sports program’s safety action plan and make sure they’re familiar with it, as well.

Join Us for Free High School Sports Physicals on *July 15, 2019
*All time slots have been reserved for this year's event.

Calling all high school athletes—free Frederick County High School pre-participation sports physicals are available for the upcoming school year on July 15. This is open to all sports and all Frederick County Public Schools. Students must come with completed FCPS physical forms and must be accompanied by a designated guardian. This service should not replace their annual physical exam. Learn more about this event on our Facebook page.

It’s available thanks to Monocacy Health Partners Orthopedic Specialists, a premier practice in Frederick specialized in sports medicine, fracture care, general hand and shoulder surgery, foot and ankle support, and more. From sports concussion management to sports injury related rehabilitation and treatment, Orthopedic Specialists provides thorough and reliable care to promote the health and safety of local student-athletes—before, during, and after sporting events and practices.

Their services include:

  • Medical Care – Works with the FRHS network of providers for surgical, emergency, and related care.
  • Orthopedic Care – Diagnoses and treats injuries and conditions that affect the bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joints.
  • Imaging – Utilizes diagnostic imaging services such as CT Scan, MRI, ultrasound, and more.
  • Rehabilitation Care – Provides one-on-one patient care and custom-designed treatment plans to help with a full recovery.

Want to learn more about sports medicine or youth sports safety? Contact us today.