Still wondering if formal exercise and strength training are good for your child?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a research study showing a correlation between increased muscle strength in teenagers and decreased risk for diabetes and heart disease. This study included boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 12 years and looked at their fasting glucose, blood pressure, triglyceride levels, cholesterol and percent body fat, as well as their pound-for-pound strength capacities. The stronger kids had markedly lower risk for what we recognize as metabolic syndrome in adults.
Essentially, the stronger the kids were for their weight, the lower their body fat and heart risk. This has long term implications for health as kids reach adulthood. Who wouldn’t want to help prevent a heart attack or Type 2 diabetes with something as simple as getting stronger?
So what should we do?
This doesn’t mean your child needs to take up Powerlifting or Olympic Weightlifting, but training to improve strength can improve a whole host of physical and metabolic traits.
Strength comes in many forms. Muscular strength can be developed by lifting weights in a gym, of course. Body weight exercises can also improve muscular strength. No one will deny the strength of competitive gymnasts or dancers, many of whom may never lift a single barbell.
For current athletes, we should reinforce the value of focused time in the gym to enhance overall strength and performance in their chosen sport. It is also important to emphasize correct technique and appropriate weight, if weight lifting.
For our non-athletes, or yet-to-be-discovered athletes, start simple. Help them to learn to do push ups, climb ropes, take a rock climbing course or practice a strength oriented yoga.
Check out this video on strength training and safety for young athletes. Here are some previously written articles for weight training athletes and fitness for the uninitiated.