Exercise, How Young is too Young?

This weekend is the annual Honolulu Marathon where thousands of people will compete across a 26.2 mile course. Most marathons have an minimum age requirement of 18 however there are some marathons with lower age requirements.

The Honolulu Marathon is one of the races with a lower age requirement, which is set at just 7 years old. Marathons typically take hours to complete (the longest time for the 2012 race was over 14 hours), and have medical tents set up in preparation for runners whose bodies give out due to the stress of running 26.2 miles.

This weekend, a 9 year old girl will run the marathon with her father. A lot of people are asking if 9 is too young for such a long race. Given the difficulty most adults have in completing it.

Running isn't the only sport with very young participants. CrossFit has recently come under fire for having kids programs for kids as young as 4. Granted, most of the CrossFit workouts for kids are done without weight (called a scaled workout), but some of them do use weights, and there's no scaling a marathon.

So, with kids participating in sports that are labeled as "extreme," it begs the question, how young is too young? What are the health implications (if any) for kids exercising in a style typically done by adults (i.e. workouts not scaled)? How do you make sure your child gets enough physical activity without hurting themselves?

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