Children are spending more and more time in front of the television or playing video games. It is no wonder more and more American children are overweight and out of shape. Children who are not taught to live a healthy lifestyle will most likely grow up to be unfit adults. What can you do to help the child or children in your life become fit? It is not an easy task in a time where physical education classes are only offered twice a week or in many cases not at all.
Children should be encouraged to be physically active. Playing tag at recess is a better alternative to trading the latest trading cards. If organized sports are offered in your area get your child involved. If your child does better in a one-on-one sport you might get them involved in karate or golf lessons. Children who are involved in sports have better self-esteem and are less likely to get into trouble.
Strength training is an excellent way to introduce your child to exercise. While heavy weight training is not advised for children, strength training has several benefits. By strength training I mean the use of body strength such as push-ups, the use of resistance bands and, for children in their teens, lifting weights. The benefits of resistance training are:
Possible injury prevention
Prevention of cardiovascular disease
Reduction in childhood obesity
Reduction and control of high blood pressure
Development of coordination and balance
An improvement in self-confidence
An improvement in sports performance
An improvement in overall health
Establishing fitness as a way of life
Children from the ages of five to 12 have a lower tolerance to exercise, and strength-training routines should be more of a learning experience. They should be taught the basics of exercise, how to monitor their heart rate, benefits of warming up and cooling down and correct body alignment.
Children who are 12 to 17 should be encouraged to pursue activities that they enjoy and are willing to participate in. The motivation for strength training at this age may be to improve body image. According to the United States Weight and Power Lifting Federation young children should not lift maximal weights until they reach the age of 14.