Just like with adults, regular exercise should form a key part of every child’s development – something we’re passionate about.
Our extensive range of kids’ classes and family activities are designed to get children up from their computers and phones, raise their heart rates and keep them fit and healthy.
But should children be lifting weights and building muscles?
What does the NHS recommend for children’s exercise?
The NHS recommends that children between 5 and 18 years old should get at least 60 minutes of exercise every day.
This should vary between moderate activities - such as walking to school or walking the dog, playing in the playground and gentle cycling - and more vigorous activities that involve running and jumping or exercises which raise the heart rate higher than normal, like swimming, playing football and energetic dancing.
Plus, the NHS suggests that 3 days a week children should participate in strength training for stronger muscles and stronger bones.
That doesn’t mean children should be lifting weights. They shouldn’t be bulking up and body building. But they should be doing some form of weight training to support their development.
The benefits of strength training
When done correctly, strength training in children can:
- build healthy muscles and joints by fortifying ligaments and tendons
- strengthen bones and build bone density
- boost performance and endurance
- increase fitness levels
- prevent injury
- speed up recovery
Suitable strength training for children
If children are participating in sports at school, like gymnastics, football and athletics, then they should be fine to begin strength training.
For younger children:
Begin with something as simple as press-ups and sit ups, using their own body weight to develop their muscles. Gymnastics will naturally strengthen muscles, as will activities on the monkey bars and rope games like tug of war.
Other sports like martial arts, rugby, tennis, basketball, aerobics, skipping and badminton will also support muscle and bone development.
Increase resistance as kids progress. Introduce resistance bands, then maybe add small weights as they get older and into high school.
For children over 11:
Weight training is acceptable. The weight lifted will naturally depend on the child’s size and ability, but they should always be able to lift any weight for between 10 and 15 reps. If they can’t lift the weight for a minimum of 8 reps it’s too heavy.
Technique and safety are paramount.
Remember, take things gradually to avoid injury. Don’t push too hard - it should be fun, and don’t overdo it. Over exercising can lead to health problems too, including stress fractures and shin splints.
If you’re not sure, ask a personal trainer or exercise specialist for advice. Our team at Athelis are always happy to help.