If you are thinking about a kids fitness course to get your children in shape, you might imagine it is all about lots of walking and running, aerobic and sporting activity. Weight training might not be foremost in your mind.
However, this is in fact something they can start sooner than you might imagine. According to the Mayo Clinic, strength and weight training can start as early as seven or eight years of age.
Obviously this cannot involve going down an adult gym and trying to lift huge weights designed for muscular adults. But it can have a number of benefits even at a young age.
The Mayo Clinic lists these as increasing strength and endurance, boosting sporting performance in almost any sport, protecting against sporting injury and developing techniques that they can continue using in the years ahead.
These benefits are just for those who like sport. But there are also general health benefits, including strengthening bones, promoting healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, a healthy weight and boosting confidence and self-worth.
Of course, the notion of your child doing weights might create some kind of alarming image of a muscle-bound body-builder wandering into school and terrifying the teachers, let alone their classmates. But bulking up, should this be something they wish to do, should wait until after puberty. Nothing they do before then should try to push them so far.
It used to be thought that even before puberty, kids should not do any strength training. But, as Men’s Health notes, that attitude has given way to an acknowledgement that there are benefits to be had in weight training, as notions such as the idea that such training will stunt growth have been discredited.
Moreover, it highlighted, this is particularly important for sports and games, based on the philosophy that they get in shape to play, not the other way round.
So yes, your child can do some weights at a fairly early age. It won’t turn them into Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it could help set them up for life to be fit, active and strong.