Most children with heart disease can play sports. Staying active and playing on a team can enhance a child’s physical fitness, confidence and social development. Sports are good for children whether or not they were born with congenital heart disease (CHD).

 Can children with heart disease play sports?

Most with CHD can live full, active and healthy lives. Their cardiologist may have corrected their disease with an operation. Others manage their condition with help from a pediatrician. Depending on your child’s situation, their doctor may recommend some restrictions.

Which Sports Can Children With CHD Play?

Your cardiac pediatrician will advise you on which sports are safe for your child. CHD describes many different conditions. The right types of activity will depend on the disease.

For some, there may be no limits on physical activity. But for others, contact sports such as football or hockey may be dangerous.

Endurance sports are often a good choice for someone with CHD. These include:

  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Bicycling
  • Rowing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Tennis

Should My Child Have a Sports Physical?

Yes. Many schools require a physical exam before allowing students to play sports. Even if the team or school doesn't ask for medical clearance, you should make an appointment with your pediatrician to assess your child's fitness.

How Does A Sports Physical Work?

For kids with or without CHD, a sports physical checks for conditions or diseases that could be exacerbated by physical activity.  If a child has heart disease, that information will be evaluated by the physician. PCCO offers sports physicals specifically for those with CHD.

The sports physical will start with a review of your child's health history. The pediatrician will look at past operations, treatments, hospitalizations and illnesses. Be sure to provide the doctor's office with medical records.

The doctor will listen to lungs and heart. They will examine hearing, vision, blood pressure and reflexes. They may check strength and coordination. For students with CHD, the doctor may recommend further testing.

When Is the Best Time for A Sports Physical?

Schedule the examination about eight weeks before the season begins. Making an appointment well in advance allows time to complete tests, treatments or schedule follow-up appointments.

Children With Heart Disease Need Exercise

Physical activity is vital for health, including for children with CHD. Sports provides the opportunity to make friends and have fun while getting exercise. If your child doesn't want to play sports, encourage other types of active play.

Read more about exercise and congenital heart disease.

PCCO offers treatment and management for those with congenital heart disease. Please contact us for information on our services.