There are children as young as 6 to 8 years of age who are interested in exercise and weight lifting. If you must decide for your own kid, know that there are contradicting schools of thought on this as some are for while others are against children exercising.
Generally speaking, exercising and weight training will benefit your child; there is no doubt about it. However, there are several factors that you ought to know, understand and consider even before allowing your child to engage in those types of activities.
Do remember that children are not mere smaller versions of adults. The difference lies in emotional development, anatomy and physiological processes. Thus, exercise methods that should be used by growing children differ largely from those employed by adults.
The immaturity of the children’s skeletal systems makes them highly susceptible to deformities if they are subjected to age-inappropriate activities. Human bones get to mature only at the age of 14 to about 22 years and before that, they should be allowed to develop normally.
Also, be aware that there are growth-related medical problems that arise from overuse of bodily parts. One such condition is the Osgood Schlatter disease that causes knee pain in young athletes. Another thing, the body temperature regulation systems of children are still developing which means that they are risking injury if they engage in strenuous activities without the proper warm-up.
Children perspire much less than adults do making them more prone to suffer from heat exhaustion and possible heat stroke. They also have difficulty developing speed and strength because of their low muscle mass and still developing hormone system. Further, children differ greatly from adults in terms of breathing and heart response during exercise and this greatly affects their capacity for physical exertion.
Adults grow stronger because they build more muscles while training with weights. On the other hand, the strength gained by young people in lifting weights can be traced mostly to neurological changes rather than muscle development.
Therefore, when considering programs for your child, be sure to seek prior medical clearance from his pediatrician. To design a program for children, try to set the repetition range to 8 – 12 while limiting the work load suitable for the said range.
Plan the schedule of workouts so they are spread out over the week. Make sure that the child will be able to rest for at least a day or two between workouts. The important thing for your child’s workout is the form of exercise he engages in and not on how much weight he is lifting.
You should oversee your child’s preparation before weight training and that should include warm up and stretching. Let your child start off lifting light items and then adjust the loads gradually. Limit exercise sessions to three times a week and they should not be done in consecutive days. Further, make sure that your child drinks plenty of water before the session, while exercising and after the workout. Water intake is necessary as children can easily get dehydrated while exercising.