"I want to be strong like Mom."
My heart nearly exploded when I first heard my daughter say those words. Since birth, she and her brother have seen my husband and I exercise. Whether it’s running, yoga, cycling or strength training, they want to get in on the action.
Getting kids interested in exercise early is essential, because it can help build a life-long love of being active. Strength training is a vital part of that exercise, no matter what their passion ends up being.
There are many benefits of strength training for kids:
- Increases muscle strength and endurance
- Strengthens bones
- Helps promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Helps maintain a healthy weight
- Increases confidence and self-esteem
- Helps protect muscles and joints from sports-related injuries
- Improves sport performance
But is strength training safe for kids? Of course it is! But as with every activity, there are guidelines to follow to ensure every kid stays safe and injury free.
Kids as young as 7 years old can begin a strength training routine. As with any exercise program, be sure to check with your child's physician before starting a strength training program, especially if your child has a known ailment such as a heart condition, high blood pressure or seizures. Proper instruction on form and adult supervision is needed at all times.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, when first beginning a strength training routine, light weights with full range of motion and 8 to 15 repetitions should be performed. Include all major muscle groups of the body, including the core. Weight training programs must be appropriate for the age and development of the child.