In order to help your child lose weight, maintain a normal weight or simply develop life-long healthy habits, you should encourage her to make regular physical activity a part of her lifestyle at an early age. Many parents focus on repetitive cardiovascular activities such as running, cycling and jumping when they think of exercise for kids. While this type of activity certainly has benefits (According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, children who are physically active are more likely to be academically motivated and alert in school), strength training can also be an important part of your child’s fitness routine.
Strength training leads to increased muscle mass and since muscle burns more calories than fat, it’s a great way to help kids lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. It’s important that your child’s training be supervised by a certified trainer, at least in the beginning, because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children avoid weight lifting, power lifting and body building until they have reached Tanner stage 5 level of developmental maturity (usually around age 15). This means that strength-building activities for children are safe but should be monitored and age-appropriate.
Ten Success Tips for Youth Strength Training:
1. Prevent dehydration by having your child drink one to two eight ounce glasses of water before exercising and give them free access to water during their exercise routine.
2. Integrate free weights, resistance bands and his/her own body weight into the program.
3. Set a good example by not complaining about your own exercise.
4. Have your child begin each workout with 5 to 10 minutes of a warm-up activity, such as walking, jogging in place or jumping rope to minimize the risk of injury.
5. Establish a rest period of at least a day between workouts. Two or three sessions per week are plenty.
6. Vary the program regularly to create diversity and avoid boredom.
7. Plan for a program that is progressive in nature yet does not overshoot the child’s physical or emotional abilities to tolerate and recover from the exercise routine.
8. Find a trainer who connects well with your child so that the time spent together will be something they look forward to rather than a punishment that they dread.
9. Be sure that all the major muscle groups are addressed in a balanced, full-body workout.
10. Make strength training part of a bigger overall program by teaching positive lifestyle habits such as proper nutrition, good sleep patterns and hygiene.
Supervised strength training that emphasizes proper technique along with these success tips can offer your child the following health benefits:
• Increased muscle strength and endurance
• Protection of muscles and joints from injury
• Better heart and lung function
• A healthy body composition
• Stronger bones
• Lower blood cholesterol levels
• A good fitness habit that lasts a lifetime
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