When you think about any sort of physical training, children don’t really come to mind. It seems much more natural for kids to get their physical activity from running around or sports, not from lifting weights and other muscle-building tasks. However, under care and supervision, children can actually benefit from strength training. The next time you’re lifting weights, don’t be afraid to let your little one join in too!
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), strength training — which includes lifting free weights, using weight machines, or doing exercises that use elastic tubing or one’s own body weight for resistance — can be safe, if these rules are followed:
- Wait until the child is old enough (at least 7-8 years old).
- Consult a physician first.
- Don’t overdo it.
- Make sure the child’s workouts are supervised by a qualified trainer who emphasizes safety and correct technique.
Strength training should not be confused with weightlifting, bodybuilding or powerlifting (which can be harmful for kids)! It’s not intended for bulking up; it’s to strengthen the body and build endurance for overall better health in the long run. When done properly, strength training can help your child reap these benefits and more. Here are some of the health benefits of implementing strength training in your child’s fitness routine:
- Increases muscle strength and endurance
- Improves performance and recovery in sports
- Strengthens bones/tendons/ligaments
- Promotes healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Maintains a healthy weight
- Develops stronger self-esteem and confidence
- Builds better posture and body composition
To ensure the utmost safety of your child, you should consult a doctor and a trainer who has experience with youth training before starting any training program. Make sure the program is age-appropriate and designed for your child’s specific needs. For example, if your child has certain health problems like asthma, these need to be brought to light. Keep in mind that constant supervision is key to making sure your child is safe and making the most of his or her activity.
Children’s Hospital of Georgia is the only hospital in the area completely dedicated to the care and well-being of children. At CHOG, we care enough to ensure that your child gets the attention he or she deserves in order to receive a proper diagnosis. CHOG cares about children. For more information about CHOG, please visit our website at augustahealth.org/chog or call 706-721-KIDS (5437).
Sources: KidsHealth, Mayo Clinic, WebMD