Fitness and Health Fitness Exercises

Weight Lifting & Kids: Age is Just a Number

As I wrote my last 2 blogs, http://valeriegoldstein.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/gain-good-weight-4-reasons-to-build-muscle/and http://valeriegoldstein.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/strength-in-your-training/, I thought of one more important group that can benefit from strength training and daily physical activity. KIDS!
You may have heard the old wives tale about how children should not partake in weight training because it will stunt growth. Well, truth be told, when lifting is performed under proper supervision and with the appropriate equipment and guidelines, there is less chance of injury than if they were playing on the play ground. Strength training like any other activity will increase strength, improve self-esteem, reduce stress hormones and raise mood enhancing hormones (dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin), lower risk of childhood obesity diabetes and other medical conditions.
Involvement in sports or weight lifting will keep kids mentally focused on positive health and lifestyle behaviors. Equally important is to begin the habit of goal setting. We have all seen and heard the crazy reports out there involving today’s youth, extreme and risky behavior to say the least. Keep ’em busy, start good habits early (so they are harder to break as they get older) and the world will be a better place.
According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine and also endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the International Federation of Sports Medicine and the U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), “Resistance training – which can include light free weights (beginning at 10 reps), resistance bands or medicine balls, as well as push-ups and other body-weight-bearing exercises – can benefit young bodies (as young as 5-8 years old) and prepare them for active lives. Programs designed to promote conditioning and correct form for specific sports can also reduce the risk of injuries by 50 percent in kids and teens,” http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/10/04/should-kids-be-lifting-weights/.
Lifting or not, according to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, children need 60 minutes of exercise each day.
Erik Blekeberg, National level weightlifter in the 105kg Class and Owner/Coach for SquatMore Weightlifting as well as the Coach for the Army & Navy Academy (Carlsbad,CA) lays out a year’s strategy in advance. His weightlifting team has “built an effective Strength & Conditioning program at Army and Navy Academy High School. His focus has been on trying to make America a power in weightlifting again and that starts with the kids: they are the future lifters of the world, and if they are not going to be lifters, then they can at least be fans.”
Blekeberg has the kids do stretches, exercises, and military style drills. The goal, basic movements in a safe environment; nothing excessive, jumping jacks & push ups, hip flexor & abductor stretches, poses and controlled breathing exercises from yoga and of course let’s not forget squats, deadlifts etc.. He also emphasizes proper technique while creating a buzz by talking with the children about the World level lifters as they watch competitions and learn the format and moves from top lifters. If you are interested in the specifics of Erik’s program or want to know more about what he does, you can find his last article “Programming and Progressions for Youth Weightlifting: Building Weightlifting’s Future”,  here http://www.performancemenu.com/articles/article.php?article_ID=604.
The Mayo clinic has easy to follow guidelines, http://www.mayoclinic.org/strength-training/art-20047758, too.
This is an amazing video of a 6-year-old boxer, Bam Bam. He says boxing is “fun” and trains 2 hours a day. His dad is very involved and is making good decisions by ensuring that Bam Bam still has time to play with his friends, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sae1e12UDR0. This video inspires me.
So here you have it, all the reasons in the word to start a weight training or any sports program for you and your child: Physical fitness, mental focus, time away from the T.V. and other negative environmental influences, injury prevention, health promotion, mood elevation and just spending time with family.  If you have been sitting on the couch waiting for the kids to get older get your butt up and get active. NO MORE EXCUSES! Most kids who are driven and dedicated are so because one or both parents/caregivers are involved.
Kids can do amazing things if adults do not hold them back. So go full force, get you and your kid involved in an activity you both will love and share together.
Wanna be inspired? Check these out, videos of amazing kids who have brought it to the next level:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TX8ClqbO5OI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sM8JwapGfco
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FJwVz7VqI0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P5akoQ_eNI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i-eH1qbXRA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7B1NhceHEg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vZpNQUIqIg

About the author

Valerie Goldstein

Valerie raises the bar for health and nutrition know how with unconventional expertise and unconditional support for wellness.

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