The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics advise children to participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. There are a variety of options to help youth stay active!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics advise children to participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. There are a variety of options for youth to stay active.
ASPECTS OF TRAINING
It is recommended that youth ages 6-17 engage in aerobic physical activity at high intensity at least 3 times a week. In addition to traditional aerobic and skill based training, children are also increasingly using strength training and plyometric training to have more of a comprehensive athletic training program. Both of which have been shown to improve performance and help reduce the rate of overuse injuries. Children can improve strength by 30% to 50% after just 8 to 12 weeks of a well-designed strength training program. Youth need to continue to train at least 2 times per week to maintain strength. Including Strength Training can benefit children not only by improving strength but also their bone density, fat-free mass, balance, lipid profiles and personal self esteem.
Health care and fitness professional groups—including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association—agree that a supervised strength training program that follows the recommended guidelines and precautions is safe and effective for children.
Plyometric work may also be helpful for improving athletic performance in youth as well as reducing the rate of ACL injuries.
GUIDELINES FOR TRAINING
Injuries in relation to strength training are primarily attributed to the misuse of equipment, inappropriate weight, improper technique, or lack of qualified adult supervision. There is no specific age requirement to begin weight training but children must be able to follow directions and show proper control. This often occurs around the age of 7 or 8. When starting training of any sort, begin with a 5-10 minute warm up and end session with a 5-10 minute cool down. In addition, when a new exercise is introduced to children, begin with no load to learn proper technique. For children, submaximal loads are suggested to help with form, and single max lifts are not recommended until there is skeletal maturity. Sets of 10-15 reps that can be performed without failure are recommended as a starting point. When children can easily perform 15 reps of a movement, gradually increase load.
- Strength Training, when done responsibly, may help athletic performance and reduce the rate of overuse injuries.
- Plyometric work may help with performance and reduce the rate of ACL injuries which can be devastating to a young athlete.
- Physical activity has many positive effects for youth including weight control, alleviating mental illness, and many more.
- Youth should achieve 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Longer is better.
For a comprehensive scientific summary on this topic, please refer to Dahab, K. S., & McCambridge, T. M. (2009)
References (Original Research)
- Dahab KS, McCambridge TM. Strength training in children and adolescents: raising the bar for young athletes? Sports Health. 2009 May;1(3):223-6.
- Malm C, Jakobsson J, Isaksson A. Physical Activity and Sports-Real Health Benefits: A Review with Insight into the Public Health of Sweden. Sports (Basel). 2019 May 23;7(5):127
- American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness and Council on School Health Active healthy living: prevention of childhood obesity through increased physical activity. Pediatrics. 2006;117:1834-1842
- American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness Strength training for children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2008;121:835-840