Emphasis on one sport not advised for children
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: What is your opinion on starting a young child to train for one sport? My husband is determined that our 4-year-old son become a professional tennis player. He has him practicing every day for more than an hour at a time. The boy doesn’t complain, but I wonder if this is healthy for him. I tell my husband the boy should play with other children and not spend such an investment of time on tennis. My husband says star tennis players learn early in life. What do you think of this? — M.A.
ANSWER:
I think your husband is going overboard, and I think he will teach the boy how to loathe tennis if he keeps this up. Some professional tennis players did start their training at very young ages, but those stars are exceptions to the rule.
A 4-year-old doesn’t have the attention span to concentrate for a full hour of tennis practice every day of the week.
The excessive concentration on one sport at this age is liable to injure the boy. His growing bones are not made to endure such stresses. Neither are his immature tendons. Children should engage in a variety of physical activities
ones they prefer and not ones forced on them by a parent. Most experts feel that adolescence is the time when a youngster who desires to devote him- or herself to one sport can do so safely.
I wonder if your husband is living out his sports fantasies through your son.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: What is the amount of exercise recommended for a man or woman of 55? I was always under the impression that 15 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week was a sufficient amount of time for heart health. Am I wrong?
R.K.
ANSWER:
That used to be the recommended amount of exercise time for an adult. For readers, aerobic exercise is the kind of exercise that is tailored for the heart. It’s exercise that employs the continuous use of large muscles for a somewhat protracted period of time, at least 10 minutes. Jogging, biking, walking, swimming and dancing are examples of aerobic exercise.
The latest advice for adults, if their doctors say they are fit enough to exercise, is to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week. That’s 20 minutes of exercise seven days a week or 50 minutes, three times a week. You can divide it any way you wish, but the minimum amount of one session of exercise has to be 10 minutes. If you are a novice, take your time to reach 10 minutes. A single session can be longer if you choose.
Moderate-intensity exercise is walking at a pace of 3.5 miles an hour, a brisk walk.
Or if you want to devote less time to exercise, you can if you make it vigorous exercise. Vigorous exercise for 75 minutes a week fulfills the requirement for heart health.
If you’re up to it and if you want even greater results, double those times
300 minutes of moderate exercise a week or 150 minutes of vigorous exercise a week. I want to issue the warning again. Get doctor approval for any of this. Strength-training exercise weightlifting is also strongly recommended for all adults regardless of age.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I play golf with three others who are my age
75 plus. Two of my group make a fetish of performing swinging exercise at every hole. Is this of any benefit? T.D.
ANSWER:
Not if it’s just a few swings. Ten minutes of warm-up exercise before a round of golf prevents injuries and increases the speed of a golfer’s swing. One suggested exercise is the windmill exercise. The golfer raises his right arm over his head and turns his face so the eyes are looking at the upraised right hand. While in that position, he then tries to touch the ground between his feet with his left hand. The exercise is repeated a few times with the right arm raised and then with the left arm raised. Fill the rest of the 10 minutes with exercises of your choosing.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


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