Thomas Mullet — Parents all over the world want to know how they can raise their kids in a healthy manner. Most of these questions tend to relate to exercise. So the purpose of this article is to answer two of the most common questions there are on the subject of exercise for children, and I’ll then follow that up with my personal recommendations on how to keep your kids fit and active.
If we take a look at reality as it is, then we can see that the current situation in which we live in doesn’t look very pleasant. Children these days are very sedentary. This has resulted in them getting fatter and fatter over time, which ultimately has caused them to be named the unhealthiest generation to ever exist. There are some simple statistics which will show how this decline has happened over the last few decades. Back in 1967, 46% of Children in the USA either walked or biked to school. In 2005, this number reduced to just 11%. This number is consistently going further and further down as the years go by.
These are the cold hard facts, and something that we must come to terms with if we are going to change anything. Just look around you right now and you will see that most kids will either be engrossed in playing video games or busy playing with their iPods. There is no disputing the evidence, because we can see that those kids that are active in their youth will grow up to be active adults whereas those kids that are lazy and sedentary in their youth will turn out to be lazy and inactive adults. So unless you actively work to change this, you really can’t expect your kids to grow up and be active people. You as parents need to do something about this. At the end of the day, it all comes down to you doing something as a parent. If you expect the government to do something, then there is little hope for your children.
The best way to really help your child develop and become an active person is to lead by example. You really need to start walking and exercising more, because this will naturally result in your kids developing an interest in staying active.
Children naturally love to move, so it really isn’t that hard. Children love to run around and cause havoc, tossing and throwing things about. We slowly but surely destroy this urge by forcing our kids to go through the strict school schedule, where they have to remain seated in one place… but know that the urge to run around never disappears. Kids have an immense amount of energy and always want to be doing whatever they can to move about.
So now we understand the importance of getting our kids to remain active, we need to answer the important questions that every parent wants to know the answer to.
Will Lifting Weights Result in My Child’s Growth Becoming Stunted?
The reality is that most people feel that if their child lifts weights, then their growth will become severely stunted.
Even official health bodies across the world recommend that a child should never lift weights in order to strength train, because it will result in their growth plates becoming damaged and therefore stop the child from growing. However, if we take a look at the research, then we can see that there are no research studies which suggest that weight training actually causes a youth to stop growing. But instead research shows us that children who lift weights actually enjoy having stronger bones, leaner muscle mass, and generally be of better health.
So the reality is that you really can’t give a simple yes or no answer to whether or not weight training will stunt a child’s growth.
If you are lifting weights with too much load, bad technique, and the improper program, then this can lead to your growth plates becoming damaged; but this can happen to an adult just as it can to a child. In fact, injury in practically every other physical sport can cause similar damage if not worse.
If your child is lifting in a controlled manner, then, as the evidence suggests, lifting weights can actually benefit their health.
If you are going to have your child lift weights, then it is really important that you have them checked out beforehand to make sure that they are fully healthy and capable of doing so. Also make sure that they only lift light weights. No going overboard and treating them like a miniature bodybuilder.
You should also make sure that you are there when they are lifting weights to ensure that they are safe and not doing anything silly that could damage their bodies.
Can Your Child Benefit from a Structured Fitness Program?
Possibly. The only reasons that fitness programs even exist in the first place is because we no longer live in a world where staying physically fit is a requirement for staying alive. We have the luxury of being able to get our food and water at a moment’s notice and therefore have to make the extra effort of going out to either walk or take a hike. The reason why most of us go to the gym to lift weights is because most of us just don’t need to do manual labor or hunt for our food to stay alive. So fitness programs are essentially there to help us stay fit in a world where it is not compulsory anymore.
Remaining physically active is essential but only if you want to live a long and healthy life. Being fat and lazy will not do anything to you in the immediate term, but it will certainly cause a premature death in the near future. But most children out there are bursting full of energy and always running around; so a structured fitness program is rarely required.
Fitness programs are great for those kids who have been lazing about for years and are not used to playing and moving about a lot. Exercise programs that revolve around the use of a child’s own bodyweight are usually the best and safest to implement.
My Personal Fitness Recommendations for Children
Here is exactly how I’d bring up my child to help them stay active and healthy and continue that onto their adulthood.
1. Make Play the Focus
Play really has to be the basis for the child’s fitness. Every child loves to play and it’s a great way for them to stay active. Just let your kids play and explore the world around them. They will naturally want to move about and have fun, which will in turn create a positive attitude toward moving about and staying healthy. So when you want to introduce them to more structured fitness programs later on, they will be happy to jump on board. But the important thing to note here is to keep play the main focus.
2. Perfect the Form and Technique
Children in general have really great form when it comes to doing things like squats and lifting objects. The reason for this is because they are naturally flexible when they are young, and their connective tissue hasn’t hardened up yet. So if you can teach them exactly how to keep that good form, then they will keep it up for the rest of their lives. Most people get injured from exercise due to bad form and technique.
3. Keep Workouts Short and Focused
Keeping it short means that you will prevent boredom. If you have a young child of say five years old, then the better idea would be to include a few exercises here and there into their day-to-day life, instead of dedicating a good chunk of time, forcing them to participate in long forms of exercise.
4. Let Your Kids Do Things Like Swim
Believe me my friend, swimming is an extremely useful skill that will remain with your kid for the rest of their lives. So don’t be worried about it when they are going through the learning stages. The fact is that your kids will love doing things that are dangerous. They are going to want to ride skateboards, climb, and jump off trees because it is in their nature.
The reality is that sports are a little dangerous, but so is practically everything else you do that requires that you move. Just let them stay active and explore this world, because the great thing is that you are going to be there when it does go wrong for them.
From a young age, you need to get your kids active and loving every moment of life. You need to let them get stronger and stronger and by allowing them to do this, you are going to radically reduce the chances that they ever get injured.
If you can teach your child to stay active then just like you never forget how to ride a bike, your child will grow up into an adult who will never stop wanting to remain active.
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