Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Strength Training for Children?

Now everyone knows children lifting weights is bad, right? A child should not exercise until they are far into their teen years that way their growth plates will not become damaged causing their growth to become impeded. Is this not what we have all heard since we were young? For most I would guess this is what you believe to be true. The fact is this is a so called "Urban Legend." The time from which a child is seven years of age all the way up into their early teens is a crucial time for physical development. Strength training during this period can in fact help a child, and increase the likely hood of them being healthier individuals by having a sound mind and body.
A recent study conducted by the MAYO Clinic states that Strength Training(using body weight, and fit bands for exercise), not Weight Lifting is actually good for children to begin doing as early as seven years of age. They list many benefits that one can ascertain from beginning a strength training program at such a young age. If your child is an athlete having stronger muscles means that they will in turn have stronger joints. Having stronger joints means that the risk of sports-related injuries will be significantly less than that of a child who is not on a strength training program. Also if your child is not an athlete their are multiple benefits one can receive from a strength training program. These include of course an increased bone density, rising self esteem due to improved body image, and oddly enough blood pressure and cholesterol control. Now this may spark some individuals as being odd considering the fact that many people relate a good cholesterol and blood pressure level to being cardiovascular fit. In fact though many studies have been performed that show circuit training and vigorous muscular activity helps to improve blood pressure. I actually attended a conference here at Cortland last semester explaining a study that was performed within our facilities based on this question. Now the MAYO Clinic stresses that technique before resistance is a key principle for this program. Also not all children may be ready for this type of responsibility due to the different rates at which all people develop. If proper care is taken before exercise, like performing a dynamic warm up then stretching afterwards in all likelihood no ill effects will be had. Also before starting a strength training program parents should consult a doctor, as well as someone who is properly trained in physical fitness methods. 
Now as a teacher candidate I am quite excited to hear about this study, because I know that I can develop many units around this idea. Strength training is indeed a life long activity because it is a way to stimulate muscular units in a low impact way. This is unlike weight lifting which is done using weights at high impact. Also I know from experience not all children like to perform methods to improve their cardiovascular endurance, so I feel as though strength training can act like a gateway to better overall fitness. As I stated in earlier posts, childhood obesity is a rising problem within the United States. I feel as though this lifelong activity could be one of the many tools we as educators could use to combat this growing epidemic. 

No comments:

Post a Comment