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Should Young Kids Lift Weights?

Should Young Kids Lift Weights?

As a sports medicine physician, and one who treats quite a few children, I am often asked, “should my child lift weight?” or “aren’t they too young to lift weight?”.

My response is a resounding NO, they are NOT too young to lift weights.

In a day an age where childhood obesity is at epidemic proportions in our country, we need more than ever to educate our children on proper lifestyle habits.  Diet, sleep, stress management, and most of all exercise.  While participation in athletics has several positives, most organized sports generally miss the mark when educating children on forming good exercise habits and developmenting of overall athleticism.

We also largely lost focus on teaching our children healthy habits in PE classes throughout school.  PE has been reduced to a token gesture, as reading, writing and arithmetic are so heavily stressed and focus has shifted to test scores and school grades.

Recently at our national sports medicine conference, I attended a lecture by Dr Avery Faigenbaum, who is internationally known for his research and application of weight training in children.  He presented study after study showing compelling research on the benefits or regular participation in youth resistance training programs, both to reinforce positive improvement in health and physical fitness, as well as sports performance enhancement.

Strength training improved motor skills performance and improved neuromuscular processes, which can lead to injury prevention.  Furthermore, training children for general athleticism allows them to adapt to any variety of sports they choose.

One other myth I commonly hear is that weight lifting ‘stunts’ a childs’ growth.  There is no evidence that has ever been published that resistance training done properly in children reduces their growth.

Lastly, as a final bell-weather, the question all doctors get as a frame of reference is “what would you do if it were your family”.  And to that I can tell you my 10 old girl and 7 year old boy train with me 2-3 nights per week.

by Dr. Ross Osborn MD