Strength Training Gets Children Positive Results

Strength Training Gets Children Positive Results

Owner, Fitwize 4 Kids Cedarhurst New York

 

It is often said that strength training builds bigger muscles. While this is true to an extent, the reality of strength training encompasses much more. Unfortunately, many parents have only been exposed to strength training on the superficial level; images conjured from magazine covers and Muscle Beach. While fitness models with big muscles sell magazines, strength training deserves to be discussed for its practical values.

Strength training for adults has long been recognized for its superficial worth. Only recently have fitness experts recommended strength training for children. In fact, children ages 6 -17 are the second-fastest growing demographic for health club members, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sports club Association. Yet many parents still question the safety and efficacy of strength training for children, and whether it could harm regular growth patterns. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, appropriate strength training programs have no apparent adverse effect on linear growth, growth plates, or the cardiovascular system. The National Strength and Conditioning Association, American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise and the Mayo Clinic also endorse youth strength training. As long as strength training is conducted with proper technique and safety, it is highly advantageous to start children on a supervised program.

 

7 Reasons Why Strength Training is Positive for Children

Increased Strength and Muscular Fitness

Reduced Likelihood of Injury

Increased Bone Density

Increased Flexibility

Decreased Joint Dysfunction

Improved Body Composition

Improved Metabolism

 

Increased Strength and Muscular Fitness

For adults, strength training increases muscle size (hypertrophy) and therefore muscle strength. Children do not have the hormones responsible for muscle hypertrophy until they reach puberty. Therefore, most of their strength gains are a result of coordination and neurological adaptation. While most realize that the hardware of a computer (screen, keyboard and mouse) is a necessary component for its function, it is the software that controls all. The same can be said for the body. It is the nervous system that controls every muscle contraction responsible for our coordinated movements. Strength training is a very effective way to activate the nervous system for more coordinated, forceful movements. The greater strength a body possesses, the easier the activities of daily living become. Result #1 – Improved muscular fitness leads to increased vitality in a society that is too commonly running on “empty.” Yes, children included.

 

Reduced Likelihood of Injury

According to an article published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise it is estimated that up to 50% of all youth sports injuries could have been prevented with proper conditioning programs. Strength training is based on a few fundamental principals: overload, adaptation and recovery. Apply a load greater than the muscle is used to, allow ample recovery time and eventually it will grow stronger. The same can be said for tendons. Tendons attach to muscles and then insert into bones. As muscles gradually increase in strength, so do the tendons, ligaments and surrounding fascia. Result #2 – Increasing the strength of the soft tissues lowers the risk of sprains, strains and tears making children more resistant to injuries.

 

Increased Bone Density

As the tendons place a greater pulling force on the bones, the bones also respond with increased strength. The pulling and compressing forces associated with strength training create denser bones. Result #3 – Strength training creates stronger bones, lowering the prevalence of osteoporosis throughout adulthood.

 

Increased Flexibility

Flexibility and strength training seemly go hand-and-hand as well. Lifting and lowering weights take the muscles and joints through a controlled range of motion. This is critical for retaining flexibility; remember the old “use it or lose it” adage? Muscle tightness is secondary to muscle weakness. Said another way, when a muscle grows weak due to inactivity, it also becomes tight and less flexible. The lack of flexibility limits range of motion and increases the susceptibility to muscle, tendon, ligament and joint related damage. Result #4 – Strength training maintains and improves flexibility.

 

Decreased Joint Dysfunction

Strength training helps balance the right and left sides of the body, as well as the front and back. Balance in the body mitigates joint dysfunction and back problems while improving coordination. Muscle imbalances can be so subtle and unrecognizable that they continue to escalate until the imbalance leads to a symptom (pain). Years of repetitive movements, when the body is forced to continually make compensations, can ultimately lead to joint dysfunction. Remaining sedentary for prolonged periods of time can create tightly bound muscles in the front of the body and weakened muscles in the back. These imbalances create rounded shoulders and lower-cross syndrome. Statistics tell us back injuries will affect 8 out of 10 Americans. Result #5 – Strength training helps correct muscle imbalances in the body and lowers the risk of joint dysfunction.

 

Improved Body Composition

There is a clear advantage to having a greater muscle to fat ratio. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue that burns a lot of calories, even while at rest. Some studies suggest that one pound of muscle utilizes 30-50 calories per day to maintain its existence. With a greater composition of muscle to fat, the body becomes an efficient calorie-burning machine, similar to that of a Hummer burning gasoline. This is good. On the contrary, one pound of fat utilizes very few calories, just hoarding more and more calories, growing bigger and bigger in size. Numerous studies indicate that obese individuals have higher incidences of blood lipid abnormalities, hypertension, and elevated fasting glucose levels, all of which are major risk factors for heart disease. Current research reports that 60% of obese children have at least one heart disease risk factor. Result #6 – Strength training lowers the associated risks of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, three of the leading causes of death in our society.

 

Improved Metabolism

Strength training also provides other metabolic advantages that help children lose weight. Following an intense strength training workout, the body will continue to burn large amounts of calories long after leaving the gym. Some studies suggest that for as long as 8 hours post -workout. And burning calories is at the very heart of weight loss. According to the CDC, obesity rates for children have tripled in the last 15 years, and new life-expectancy analysis states obesity could shorten the average lifespan of an entire generation – today’s children – by two to five years. Result #6 – A boost in metabolism aids in weight loss and cuts down on the prevalence of childhood obesity.

 

There are 7 well-justified reasons why strength training provides children with positive results. We have reached a point where strength training needs to be recognized for its life-enhancing benefits; benefits that go well beyond superficiality. The good news is that there are many local facilities designed to help children get involved in strength training programs. Check your community listings for the type of program that is right for your child.

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