Apr 16, 2020

Myth: Lifting Weights Is Unsafe For Children

One of the most common myths associated with youth fitness programs is that resistance training is unsafe and harmful to the developing skeleton of children. Unfortunately, some parents and caregivers question if children should lift weights in school and community-based programs, despite public health recommendations.

No scientific evidence…

Indicates that participation in a well-designed resistance program will stunt the growth of children or harm their developing skeleton. Childhood seems to be the best time to participate in strength-building activities that enhance bone mineral content and density. Regular participation in youth resistance training can have a favorable influence on bone growth and development in girls and boys.

In addition to gains in musculoskeletal strength, youth resistance training offers a variety of health and fitness benefits that can prevent the decline in physical activity and upsurge in disease risk factors early in life. Moreover, new insights into the design of youth fitness programs have highlighted the importance of participating in strength- and skill-building activities early in life to set the stage for ongoing participation in exercise and sport activities. Indeed, the unique benefits of resistance training should not be overlooked when designing youth fitness programs.

Qualified Instruction Is Key

The key is to provide qualified instruction in a safe exercise environment while recognizing the physical and psychosocial uniqueness of children. In addition to prescribing the right dose (i.e., load, repetitions, and sets) of resistance training, it is also important to provide meaningful feedback, foster new social networks and promote healthy behaviors. Youth who enjoy the experience of resistance training are more likely to adhere to the program and achieve training goals.

The truth is that resistance training can be a safe, effective and worthwhile activity for children if the program is supervised, well-designed and technique-driven.

Avery D. Faigenbaum, Ed.D., FACSM; Rhodri S. Lloyd, Ph.D.; Jon L. Oliver, Ph.D. | Mar 25, 2020

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