Misconceptions about children and resistance-training are refuted by research that shows benefits of strength-building, including injury prevention and overall fitness
Children of all ages with proper supervision can benefit from resistance training, a form of strength building that should be incorporated into physical activity classes when students return to school, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The academy issued its recommendations in a clinical report, “Resistance Training for Children and Adolescents," published in the June 2020 issue of Pediatrics (published online May 26). The report, which revises a 2008 policy statement, reviews the latest research on the benefits and risks of resistance training for children and adolescents.
“Resistance training consists of much more than weight-lifting, and it has a place in everyone's physical fitness routine," said Paul R. Stricker, MD, FAAP, lead author of the statement, written by the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness.
“We know children as young as 5 can build strength with one-legged hops or frog jumps. For older children, resistance training can be combined with aerobics or other sports to round out their activities."
Yet it is not age alone that determines training participation. A child with more exercise experience and competency with resistance training skills will have an older “training age" than a beginner of the same chronological age.
The report emphasizes the need for proper technique and supervision, which can be provided during physical education classes and youth sport programs.
The AAP recommendations include:
Before beginning a resistance training program, children should see a medical professional if they have had conditions such as uncontrolled hypertension, uncontrolled seizure disorders, specific cardiovascular conditions, or a history of chemotherapy.
“While most sports training programs have been on hold during the pandemic, we can start thinking in advance about new ways to keep children fit and healthy through a wide range of activities," Dr. Stricker said. “Resistance training can be an enjoyable lifelong pursuit that contributes to overall physical fitness."
Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org: