It’s never too early or too late to start working out. The agility, stamina, endurance, focus, will power and most importantly – the positive “can-do” attitude that comes as a result of workouts can benefit people of all ages. Even kids! But there’s a lot to consider before you let your kid into the field because the mind and body at a young age are highly impressionable. When done the right way, exercising / working out can form a strong foundation for the kids’ physical and mental future. Today let’s understand when is the right age for kids to start exercising and what precautions are to be practice.
Kids and Exercising
If you’re scared that your kid will end up falling down and injuring themselves, then you should know that little to no movement won’t let the muscle memory develop and decreases flexibility and cause stiffness. Even infants need some form of exercise to obtain proper bone, joint and muscle function.
Basic cardio will build up good stamina in the kids and there’s no age bar. Toddlers have all the stamina in the world and keep running around. When channelized the right way, this can inculcate into a habit of a monitored and timed run which can help increase stamina and agility as the kid grows up. Enrolling them in sports at a young age will help not only in strength and stamina but also in sportsmanship, concentration, discipline, agility and presence of mind. Natural modes of exercises like the yoga, treks, MMA can also do the same for your kids.
What about Kids and Gym?
Now here’s the tricky part. Most of us have easy access to good gyms, so we enroll our kids along with us. But this is where we go wrong. Younger kids (up to 12 years) and teenagers need not go to the gym for basic exercises, at all (unless it is medical need). Until the age of 17 years (approx.) the body goes through a lot of physical and hormonal changes. Traditional gyms usually have weights and there’s a good chance the kid will end up lifting heavy weights in a wrong manner at the wrong age.
Why shouldn’t you join a gym before 17 years of age?
Many gym movements with heavy weight and gym machines can cause injury, and can lead to unwanted sprain and strains if done on a high intensity and in a wrong way. And since the body is undergoing constant change, heavy gymming will put the body in one particular mould and stunt the natural growth of the body. Accelerating a healthy growth from light and natural movements (as mentioned above) is much different than suffocating the growth in a gym.
Young children below 17, without supervision, have less concentration, seriousness, stability, balance and involvement. All these factors can lead to an accident. It is advised that 17-18 years is the best age where the benefits of working out at a gym can be achieved without any trouble. It can lead to strong, muscular, lean and healthy physique in men and slim and healthy outline among women.
Do It ONLY Under Professional Supervision
However, this doesn’t apply for light weightlifting. Very light weightlifting under the supervision of a health professional will slowly increase muscle strength. Recent research has shown that when performed under the right conditions, there can be excellent benefits for children who weightlift. Children in professional sports are now encouraged to engage in strength training to increase bone, tendon, and ligament strength which all reduce the risk of injury and improve performance.
If your kid is going ahead with light weight lifting, make sure that –
- They have mastered body weight training and balance before getting onto resistance / external weights
- They use only free weights
- They stay away from gym machines
- You test and increase their capacity
- They’re under constant supervision
- Their form is right
- Their nutrition is right
- They get proper rest and recovery days as well
Children should be physically active at all ages! It is important to start setting aside dedicated time –
Toddlers – at least 1.5 hours (30 mins. Structured and rest free play)
Pre-school children – 1 hour of structured physical activity; 1 hour to several hours of unstructured physical activity.
School aged children – at least 1 hour of physical activity every day.
With this established, I hope you get your kid to stay active the right way and start building a solid and stable foundation for their future. Remember, there are no shortcuts or ‘fast forward-ing’ in life, especially not a kid’s life. So let them grow the natural way but accentuate the positive growth.