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Does the child have any other medical problems?
If the child has not been in a regular exercise program before, its important for them to have a gradual increase in activity levels before competing in a sport like cross-country.Obviously, there is a lack of physical conditioning, which can take about 4 weeks of moderate exercise to improve. There is also usually a need for muscles to adapt to running and the "too much-too soon" approach can lead to injuries just as shin splints or iliotibial band syndrome.Finally, child that are obese tend to be very self-conscious about their condition. The goal of any exercise program for this age group should be to make sure that they are encouraged by the progress that they are making.I usually recommend to parents to get their children doing 30 minutes brisk walking or a walk-run (1 min run followed by 1 min recovery walk and then repeat) for about 4 to 6 weeks first. This conditioning will help once they start with the cross-country practice.
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