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Children and Exercise

By Anthony Mayatt, Feb 16 2012 02:33PM

Hello all

Welcome to my next blog. This one is based around trying to promote healthy exercise to children but mainly weight training. Research used to suggest that nobody should do weights before the age of 16 but new research suggests otherwise so I will explain all the pointers and how you can safely get your child(ren) to do weights exercises.

Firstly from early age it is important to try to get your child into a routine of exercise so that they find it fun and want to continue it as they get older. One way in doing this is for you (the parent) to exercise as kids copy their role models so show them that it is a good thing to do. As they get older exercise with them whether it is a kick around in the back garden to keep active. Modern times there is too much fatty foods and technology that seem to make people think they can sit and do nothing and that is not the right message to be sent out.

Now when it comes to using weights any child from about the age of 11 onwards can safely use them. This is during the main age of puberty so is a great time to promote a healthy body when they are already going through so many changes. Firstly I must stress that it is of importance that if you would like your child to partake in this then you should go to your local gym/leisure centre as they all do what is called junior gym so the children are supervised by a trainer specialised in children’s exercise. I do not promote it at home as certain weight exercises should be avoided before reaching mid to late teens. When it comes to metabolism the younger you are the faster it is and as you get older it slows, so if you can promote exercise at an earlier age the metabolism will stay faster the older they get which in turn should mean slimmer and healthier with age. On average a childs metabolism is 30-40% faster than an adults.

Benefits of Children weight training

- Increases flexibility as during a time with muscle and tendon growth

- Improves body composition

- Decreases blood pressure

- Increases muscle and bone growth

- Increase cardio respiratory function

Guidelines to using weights

Ok so it is not as simple as just lift weights and they will be healthier there are guidelines as to what they should and shouldnt do to promote their health in a safe way. I would suggest that in a gym environment children of 11+ should always start with weight machines and not free-weights as this will allow then to perform a safe technique and not put too much loading onto the joints.

- Aim for them to do 1-3 sets with about 8 different exercises

- Should rest between 1 and 2 minutes per exercise

- Focus on technique first then once learned gradually increase resistance by very small amounts.

- Upper body can do 8-12 reps and lower body 15-20 as the legs can tend to take more during that age.

- Warm up and cool down with a mixture of cardio, mobility and static stretching

- start once per week and increase to 2-3 if possible.

Children have an increased sensitivity to heat so will lose more thermal energy than an adult during exercise so is important that they have a drink on them at all times and drink regularly.

So you can see that by promoting this in a safe way weights at puberty can really be beneficial for them as they get older. You are looking at lower cholesterol, an increased lung volume, healthier heart rate. One time it is advisable not to weight train is if you know your child has a high lactate production and to take caution if they suffer with asthma and diabetes. In that situation make sure they are under guidance at all times.

One point I want to finish and focus on is that one of the main worries for parents is that they feel using weights at an early age will stunt their childs growth. Under these guidelines they will actually have a healthy growth and increased flexibility. The reasons why growth may be stunted is too much pressure on the joint so that is lifting very heavy weights on a regular basis or putting too much pressure on a joint i.e. gymnastics. Most gymnasts are very short because they go through extreme ranges of motion causing so much pressure on the joint that the bones stop growing. Doing multi joint weight exercises such as a pulldown, squats for example will promote healthy growth.

I hope you enjoyed my blog and got some pointers and as usual feel free to ask any questions using the comment tab and I will answer to the best of my ability. Most of all I hope we can start to promote exercise to reduce child obesity as it is a problem getting out of control.

See you soon for a new blog.


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