The Benefits Of Strength Training For Kids

You can’t turn on a television, radio or the computer these days without hearing, eventually, something about childhood obesity.

What are we going to do about it?

Here are some more alarming statistics.

Who are we going to blame today?

It’s gotten to the point where we as a society are becoming numb to any and all news regarding children and obesity and that is the scariest thing of all.

Less than 10 years ago it was frowned upon for any child to start strength training citing that it would stunt their growth, ruin their bones and encourage them to become aggressive.

Now, it is not only encouraged but medically suggested that children get active young and stay active for a lifetime.

Prevention has become the catch-phrase but where are the guidelines?

What is appropriate for kids and what kinds of benefits can we expect from strength training in those kids?

In terms of appropriateness, there are a few simple guidelines.

1. The strength training exercises should be age appropriate, meaning that the child should be mature enough to follow instructions with supervision.

2. The focus on strength training should be on fun rather than on disease prevention. Most kids can’t comprehend or don’t care until they get older, around 11-14 years of age. By focusing on disease prevention, you can even turn off a younger child’s interest in strength training.

3. Children should always be supervised even if they appear to be okay, or strong enough to do the exercises.

4. Start slowly and incorporate variation.  Give the child plenty of room for improvement as well as a chance to experiment with different exercise tools for improving their strength.

5. Listen to the child. Address their concerns and questions with care and an open mind.  The goal here is to create a love of physical activity, not just to “work out”.

Strength training, when used appropriately can greatly benefit children.  It can help them from becoming the latest obesity statistic.

What are the benefits that can be expected for children who participate in strength training?

1. Fostering an early love of exercise and physical activity

2. Improvements in muscular strength and muscular endurance

3. Improvements in their bone mineral density/bone mass

4. A more favorable/healthy body composition (muscle weight versus fat weight in the body)

5. Improved motor coordination, motor functioning

6. The potential for better performance in sports and other physical activities

7. Better focus and concentration

8. Fun for the child

9. Improved self esteem in the children participating

10. Better social skills

When it comes to children, we all need to be more vigilant when it comes to their health and well-being.  By encouraging strength training, we are giving children the tools to help keep themselves healthy at a younger age.

When children are appropriately engaged, strength training becomes more like a game or a sport and less like a chore.  Active children most often grow into active, healthy adults.

Why do any of us hesitate with encouraging physical activity in children? Why not let them be the example that we need to become more physically active ourselves.

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