CareNow® - July 02, 2021

More than 3.1 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States since the pandemic began, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

Although many families are eager for their daily lives to return to normal, it’s important to consider the risks for your child in doing so.

For example, if you and your family determine your child will participate in sports, it should be acknowledged that he or she is at a greater risk of infection. Many families feel strongly that the benefits outweigh the risks as their child will be able to interact with other children socially and will gain physical activity during practices and games.

We’re taking a look at the benefits of playing sports during the global pandemic and what you can do to help your child safely return to physical activity if they test positive for COVID-19.

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How to Approach Sports During the Pandemic 

There’s no denying that having your child participate in team sports has a myriad of benefits, both mental and physical. In fact, physical activity, when done at the right intensity and amount of time, can actually strengthen your child’s immune system, helping to protect them from getting sick.

However, as sports leagues begin resuming, it’s important that you follow basic COVID-19 guidelines.

This includes the following:

  • If your child is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, including coughing, difficulty breathing or a fever, he or she should not attend or participate in team sports.
  • If you believe your child has been exposed to COVID-19 in the past 14 days, you should quarantine until you believe you’ve safely passed your chance of getting sick. Fourteen days is the recommended period of time in most cases.
  • In situations where you’re not sure whether or not your child should participate in group sports, it’s always a good idea to talk to a medical professional who can provide you with an educated opinion.

Getting Your Child Back into Sports After They Test Positive for COVID-19

Because there is still so much unknown when it comes to the long-term effects of COVID-19, you should take caution when allowing your child to return to physical activity after they test positive.

Because the virus can impact the heart, lungs, brain and kidneys, your child may experience ongoing symptoms like difficulty breathing, aching muscles and fatigue.

When your child is sick with COVID-19, he or she should not participate in physical activity of any kind. This should stand for a minimum of 10 days, depending on the severity of your child’s symptoms. It’s important that he or she focuses on getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated and eating a well-balanced diet filled with fruits and vegetables.

If your child tests positive for COVID-19 but does not exhibit symptoms, he or she should remain isolated for 10 days after the date of the positive test. However, if your child shows symptoms, the isolation date begins when the symptoms start.

Your child’s healthcare provider can help you decide when it’s a good idea for your child to return to sports and physical activity. This will be determined based on your child’s specific medical history, as well as the symptoms and severity of their illness.

Taking a Phased Approach to Sports After COVID-19

It is recommended that your child take a graduated return to sports after testing positive for COVID-19. This will allow you to monitor your child’s activity level as well as any symptoms that may be lingering from the infection.

Once your child is able to complete normal day-to-day activities like getting dressed, brushing their teeth and walking around the house without noticing a worsening of symptoms, you should feel comfortable with them beginning Phase 1 of their return.

Remember, while your child is slowly returning to physical activity, keep an eye out for difficulty breathing, fainting, chest pain or pressure, dizziness and a decreased tolerance for exercise.

Phase 1: When your child feels comfortable and it’s been approved by their doctor, they may begin Phase 1. This phase includes at least two 15-minute sessions of light aerobic activity at up to 70% of their maximum heart rate. Light aerobic activities may look like light jogging or brisk walking. 

Phase 2: Once your child can comfortably perform Phase 1, you can have them transition into some aerobic exercise at 30 minutes maximum. This will look like 80% of their maximum heart rate. Aerobic exercises may be running drills or simple movement activities.

Phase 3: This phase may include one session of exercise up to 45 minutes long. This type of exercise can include some simple sport specific activities such as those done during practice. 

Phase 4: For Phase 4, your child may participate in two sessions of sport specific training for as long as 60 minutes; however, these sessions should be separated by at least 24 hours. 

Phase 5: At this point, your child should be able to get back to normal training activities at a normal amount of time for at least one session. 

Phase 6: Finally, your child can return to their normal sports activities with no restrictions!

To help prevent your child from getting sick with COVID-19 while participating in team sports, it’s important that your child practice social distancing, wash hands regularly and wear a mask whenever possible. Not only will this protect your child, but it will help slow the spread of the virus to others too.

If your child is showing symptoms of COVID-19, you should have them tested as soon as possible. CareNow is a safe place for your child to get tested for COVID-19. Along with our enhanced safety measures, you can even use Web Check-In® to wait from the comfort of home until a provider is ready for you.

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Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.