Kids health is in the spotlight more than ever given the challenges parents deal with not only getting their kids to eat healthy foods, but the external factors such as TV, Internet and Social Media that make it even harder to police your kids mental and physical diet.
Like our own health, we can and should only work on the things we can control. And teaching kids to eat healthy all comes down to leading by example. Kids can only eat what’s in the fridge or pantry so it’s essential as a parent to educate yourself about what healthy eating really means and to show them how it’s done, and hopefully, get them engaged in food preparation so they can take responsibility for their eating habits as they grow.
Food is one of life’s true pleasures and good health is the foundation to a long life. “Health is Wealth” as the saying goes. On this page you’ll find invaluable information and advice on kids health that you can implement immediately to get your kids eating healthier and being more active.
As a father of 5 (daughters!), a qualified Chef and qualified Personal Trainer of 15 years I’m seeking out new ways to keep my kids healthy and active, and I hope this information can help you create positive and healthy habits in your children too.
Let’s get into it!
5 Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat Fruits And Vegetables
If you think it’s hard getting kids to include lean protein with their meals try getting them to eat fruits and vegetables! We all know fruits and vegetables are good for you. They are natural sources of vitamins and minerals.
Although fruits and vegetables are primarily carbohydrates, there are some varieties like mushrooms and soy bean that contain a healthy amount of protein. And you can choose among a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that have low Glycemic Index ratings to keep their blood sugar under control.
For example, apples, oranges, grapefruit, broccoli and cauliflower have low Glycemic Index ratings. In school, children are taught the many benefits that can be had with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Still most children leave their vegetables untouched on their plates.
The reasons range from the scientific: a study from Yale University shared the theory that children associate vegetables with poisonous plants, to intuition: parents often associate eating vegetables with “punishment”.
Regardless of their apprehensions, we cannot ignore the importance of having a healthy variety of fruits and vegetables in our children’s diet. The good news is it may not be as difficult as you think!
1) Add Vegetables To Their Favorite Foods
Kids love hamburgers! And meat is a great source of protein. But did you know that adding vegetables into your patty not only makes your burger more nutritious but also juicier and tastier?
• For every kilo of 80/20 ground beef, dice 100 grams of onions, one large bell pepper, 100 grams of mushrooms, 10 cloves of garlic, 1 small carrot and a 1 celery stalk.
• In a pan, lightly sauté the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil or organic, unsalted butter. Mix in the following seasonings:
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon cumin powder
- Set the sautéed vegetables aside and wait to cool down.
- Mix in the cooled vegetables with the kilo of ground beef and mold into five 200 gram burger patties.
- Let the patties set inside the fridge for 15 minutes before grilling or pan frying them. Don’t forget to add sea salt lightly before cooking.
The vegetables make up approximately 1/3 of the burger mix. Lightly frying with extra virgin olive oil will not remove the nutrients. In fact, cooking will caramelise the sugars found in vegetables and intensify its flavour. Top with a grilled tomato to garnish the burger. Grilling a tomato activates more lycopene than eating it raw!
2) Get The Kids Involved
One of the best places to take kids for an education is the local supermarket. The fruits and vegetables section is always an interesting destination. You are greeted with a plethora of smells and a vibrant array of colors.
Share valuable information and popular trivia with your kids before you pick your fruits and vegetables. A better idea would be to let your kids pick them!
When you get home, have your kids get involved with the process of preparing vegetables. Show them how to wash vegetables properly, correct handling and storage techniques.
While you are slicing the vegetables, explain to your kids why this vegetable is needed for this particular meal. Touch on its health benefits and how vegetables enhance flavour.
Finally, have your kids mix the vegetables into the recipe. If possible, get them to add the seasonings which when combined with cooking enhance aroma.
One way for kids to develop a taste for vegetables is to through smell. Our sense of taste is influenced by what we smell. As they get immersed in the smell of cooking vegetables, they will come to associate it with good tasting food.
3) Group Vegetables Strategically
Researchers from Texas A & M shared results of their study on children’s eating behaviours which revealed an interesting twist on why they don’t eat vegetables. According to the study, children did not eat vegetables when paired with their favorite foods such as chicken nuggets or pizza.
But when vegetables are paired with less popular food like baked potato or deli slices, children tend to eat more of them. The idea is not to create competition among food groups.
A better approach would be to use the data to come up with meals that complement each food group and offer greater variety of choices.
Instead of burgers for dinner, why not grilled Chilean Sea Bass or Mahi-Mahi with a small serving of tomato, lettuce, cucumber and carrot salad lightly tossed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon and mustard dressing?
The tartness of the salad dressing goes well with these choices of fish which are very flavourful.
4) Make Desserts or Smoothies
Kids love sweets! But popular desserts like ice cream, donuts and cake are high in refined sugars which are bad for their health. A better alternative would be to make desserts or smoothies.
Here are a few recipes you can try. All you need to do is add the ingredients in a blender and press “start”:
Pineapple Carrot Puerto Rican Smoothie
- 1 cup frozen pineapple slices
- 1 small diced carrot
- ¾ can Coconut Milk
- 1 tablespoon natural honey
Greek Yogurt Smoothie
- ½ cup orange juice
- ½ cup baby carrots
- 1 cup frozen pineapples
- ¾ cup Greek Yogurt
- ½ cup frozen mango slices
- 1 tablespoon honey
“Berry” Healthy Smoothie
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 2 cups frozen mixed berries
- ¾ cup Greek Yogurt
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
Let your kids pour the ingredients into the blender and have one press the “start” button. These smoothies are not only packed with nutrition but taste insanely great too!
5) Create Healthy Snacking Alternatives
Instead of having chips, cookies and lollies as snacks in the home, create healthier alternatives that also taste good. Potato chips are high in sodium, fat and carbohydrates. A healthier alternative would be sweet potato fries.
Sweet potatoes are very flavourful and are good sources of healthy fibre. Slice them thinly, sprinkle with a little salt and olive oil then bake in the oven. They will come out crispy and great tasting!
Instead of ice cream, why not offer a chilled yogurt dessert? Fill a few wine glasses with granola, muesli or uncooked oatmeal. Top with Greek Yogurt and leave overnight in the fridge. Top with raisins before serving. This dessert is high in fibre, protein and healthy carbohydrates.
Healthy food has been unfairly cast as being bland and lacking of flavour. You just need to be creative in how you mix and match fruits and vegetables to come up with healthy yet great tasting meals.
As you have read, getting your kids to eat fruits and vegetables is not all that difficult. Best of all, you get to find new and interesting ways to have quality time with them.
Child Obesity: What You Need To Know
Obesity is a growing epidemic. In fact, doctors have gone one step further and have labeled obesity as a pandemic or an outbreak of global proportions. This is a condition that is deeply rooted in our childhood where our values including our relationship with food are influenced by external conditions.
Thus, to control the obesity pandemic we must work to lessen the incidence of child obesity. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Wellness (AIHW), one in four or 25% of children in Australia are categorised as obese.
Australia is one of three developing countries that have the fastest rising rates of obesity. The other two are the United States and the United Kingdom.
But how do you classify a person as “obese”? People have interchanged the meaning of being “overweight” with being “obese”.
The popular reference is the Body Mass Index or BMI which defines the ideal body weight according to height. So if we are to follow the BMI chart, if you are 196 centimeters tall and weigh 118 kilograms you are classified as obese. Using the BMI as the reference tool, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is obese.
Thus, the BMI is not an accurate basis for obesity because being overweight does not mean you are obese. Body weight is the sum total of a person’s physiological composition: fat, muscle, water, blood and bone.
A better measurement is body fat percentage. According to Jack Willmore and David Costill, authors of the book “Physiology of Sport and Exercise”, a body fat percentage of 25% for women and 35% for men qualify one as obese.
Obesity carries many health risks. Among the serious ones are as follows:
• Coronary Heart Disease
• High Blood Pressure
• Type 2 Diabetes
• Sleep Apnea
• Reproductive Problems
Obesity does not only present health risks but has economic considerations as well. According to Access Economics, the total health cost of obesity to the Australian government in 2008 was estimated at $58 Billion. So how do we avoid child obesity?
There is a direct correlation between lack of physical activity and obesity. A study done by the Department of Health and Ageing in 2006 showed that more Australian children aged 5 to 14 spent more hours watching television and playing video games than being involved in physical activity.
With the growth of the smart phone, the popularity of the Internet and social media, we could expect more children adopting the sedentary lifestyle. Lack of physical activity could make children more sluggish and slow down their metabolism.
A sedentary lifestyle could conceivably encourage children to follow an unhealthy diet of junk food and sugary sweets. We have to get children into the great Australian outdoors. Australia has many beautiful beaches, parks and is home to world class fitness centers. Weather is ideal for different types of activity year-round.
Over the years, Australians have made their mark in sports such as swimming, tennis, rugby, basketball and combat sports. The more we get children to exercise, the more active and attuned they would be to their health and fitness.
For years people have labeled fat as the “villain” among the macro-nutrients. In 1971, a cardiologist Dr. Robert Atkins revealed the findings of his research which showed fat was not the culprit for the growing rate of obesity.
It was carbohydrates. Yes, carbohydrates which formed the base of “The Food Pyramid”.
When we ingest a carbohydrate, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin which acts as the transport medium to deliver the carbohydrate into muscle cells. Once driven into the muscle cell, carbohydrates are converted to glycogen which is stored muscle energy.
The body’s supply of glycogen is depleted by physical activity or extended periods of fasting. What happens when you ingest carbohydrates and your muscle stores are still full of glycogen? Excess glycogen is delivered into adipose tissue otherwise known as the fat cell. This is how you get fat.
Despite the research of Dr. Atkins, other cardiologists and nutritionists in the years that followed, many organisations including schools continued to promote “The Food Pyramid” as the basis for a balanced, healthy diet.
In 2001, a nutritionist from Harvard, Dr. Walter Willett labeled “The Food Pyramid” as irresponsible and self-serving. Does this mean we should remove carbohydrates from our children’s diet? No. Carbohydrates are an important macro-nutrient.
It functions to support the vital organs and protects the immune system. But institutions in government particularly those in education could update their curriculum and discuss the latest developments in diet and nutrition.
By doing so, schools are not giving in to diets popular in the mainstream. It is merely carrying out its function to educate its students on research that could have repercussions on their way of life.
Global obesity should be top priority of every country, not just Australia. Private corporations should work hand-in-hand with their government to increase awareness on the growing rate of obesity and its consequences on health.
Government should follow the paths set by British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and United States First Lady Michelle Obama who campaigned for school menus to switch to healthier options in the UK and the US respectively.
Perhaps nutritionists could study and test if the typical Asian diet could stem the growing rate of obesity. A typical Asian diet consists of rice or noodles, fresh vegetables and unprocessed meats.
Instead of sugary soft drinks, Asians prefer herbal teas and water sprinkled with lemon. Asian countries have the lowest rates of obesity in the world. The battle versus obesity cannot be won overnight.
There are many other variables to the equation which make it a difficult problem to solve. Obesity appears to be a product of our lifestyle choices.
In a strange conundrum, technology has evolved to a point that we can do things faster. But improved efficiency only meant we could do MORE things within the same time frame.
Hence, we have become busier than ever. And the busier we get the less time we have to allocate to healthier pursuits like exercise and following a clean diet.
Technology Vs Nature
Today’s generation has become more dependent on technology than any other generation. When a watch has to tell you it’s time to move or that you need to exercise, it becomes apparent there is disconnect between humanity and technology.
When 20 hours a week of a child’s life is spent in front of a screen instead of a soccer field, then perhaps it is man who serves technology and not the other way around.
In the end, it could well be that the best way to beat obesity is to teach children to embrace humanity; discover the world outside their window and not the one that can only be accessed by mobile gadgets.
Kid-Friendly Protein Meal Ideas
Getting your kids to eat enough protein can be a real challenge, especially if he or she tends to turn their nose up at everything. While some kids will eat meat without a problem, most will only go for the traditional kid-favourites of burgers, hot dogs, and chicken fingers.
If that sounds like your child, it’s time to get creative. The good news is all hope is not lost. There are a number of ways that you can sneak more protein into their day without them even realising it.
Whip Up Some Protein Pancakes
Rather than serving your kids conventional pancakes, which are typically very high in carbohydrates and low in protein, make a batch of protein pancakes instead.
You can very easily swap out at least half the flour called for in conventional pancakes for some protein powder instead. Play around with a variety of different flavours and topping combinations.
Banana protein powder topped with peanut butter for instance can be a real kid-pleaser, or try a chocolate protein powder topped with fresh raspberries and low sugar maple syrup.
Try A Yogurt Based Fruit Dip
Another way to sneak protein into your kids diet is to try a yogurt based fruit dip. Combine some yogurt with a little light whipped cream and some fruit flavoured low sugar jelly if desired.
Now serve this with some sliced fruit for a quick afternoon-snack that will provide protein, fibre, as well as vitamins and antioxidants. Some kids will rarely eat fruit either, but when you add a tasty dip into the equation, it becomes more appealing.
Make Ground Turkey Breast Meatballs
Meatballs are another classic favorite for most kids but the high fat ground beef used to create them does nothing for their nutrition. Transform this meal option with ground turkey breast instead.
Ground turkey breast meat is just as lean as regular turkey or chicken breast is and will help provide the amino acids their body needs for proper growth and development.
Prepare these just as you would a regular meatball, adding a little more moist ingredients (such as egg whites) to them to make up for the lack of fat. Then serve them with a tomato based sauce (rather than cream) over a bed of whole wheat pasta or mashed sweet potatoes. You’ll have a kid-friendly meal they’ll request time and time again.
Whip Up A Protein Fruit Smoothie
If your kids love their milkshakes, start preparing these at home. Keep frozen bananas on hand, which will add a thick, creamy taste to the shake and combine that frozen banana with some low fat milk (or almond milk) along with a scoop of protein powder.
Add whatever other berries you desire and to really make it thick, blend in a little xanthan gum. This is a thickener that you can purchase at many health food stores that will really make a difference in the overall taste of the shake.
Tuna Mac ‘N Cheese
Finally, macaroni and cheese is another classic kid-favorite that rarely gets refused, but sadly, is very low in protein. To bump the protein of this easy-to-make dish, simply open up a can of tuna and toss it in.
You might even go one step further and add in some peas, corn, or finely diced red pepper for greater nutrition. This balanced meal takes all of 20 minutes to make and can be a great go-to for hungry kids.
These are just some kid-friendly ways to add more protein to their day. Try and work with their taste buds rather than against them and you’ll see full tummies and you’ll feel great too.
Sport For Kids: How It Can Help Your Child’s Development
Participating in sports is a natural transition for kids. As soon as a child opens his or her eyes, motor skills take over. They react to different stimuli around them. At first everything is instinctive but soon they realise there is an effect to every stimulus. Discovery becomes playtime!
Physical activity increases as kids become more aware of movement and their individual capabilities. In time, exploration and discovery lead kids to find sports as the best activity.
Here are 5 great reasons why joining sports is the best activity for kids…
1) Develop Motor Skills
Learning a new sport is never easy. You learn new movements and develop neural pathways to help your body adapt to different functions and techniques. In time, the movements become easy and natural. But it doesn’t end there.
Once you have reached a certain level of proficiency, you will have to go through a new cycle of learning and adaptation. This is called progress!
Kids who are in sports move and function better than those who lead sedentary lifestyles. Physically active kids develop their levels of agility, coordination and are in tune with what their bodies can do.
2) Prepares Kids For The Game Called Life!
In many ways, sport is a metaphor for life. Even if you have achieved an appreciable level of proficiency in a sport, if you don’t put in the time to get better, you’ll be left behind by those who worked harder or are more gifted.
Thus, sport prepares you for competition in the field and in life! There are different arenas in this game called life: home, school, society, work and business. And competition exists everywhere. Participants who enter the arena are your competitors.
Those who are unwilling, passive and unprepared will be swallowed up and forgotten. Those who are confident, prepared and determined will have the best chance of winning.
Participating in sports teaches kids the importance of preparation and sacrifice. Each time you win or accomplish an objective, you have to aim higher because this is how you progress.
But as you move up, the challenges become more difficult. You will have to work harder and sacrifice more to maintain your winning ways.
It’s the same thing in other facets of life. School itself is a competition. You have to prove yourself to hundreds of students who want to be better than you. Work is competition.
In order to get that promotion or salary increase, you have to work harder than your co-workers. In business, if you don’t pursue opportunities, a competitor may beat you to it.
3) Teaches Kids How To Handle Challenges
One of the hardest things to deal with in sports is failure. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have accomplished at this point. Failure will always be a painful experience.
Many people are afraid of failure because they cannot handle the pain, deal with the disappointments or face the embarrassment. But these are nothing more than fears and self- limiting beliefs because failure is a part of life and therefore you must learn to accept it.
Sport is a zero sum game because there can only be one winner. Kids who are exposed to failure get to experience the sheer impact of its reality at a very young age. And it can be transformative!
Those who succeed after experiencing failure are those who view it as part of this process called “winning”. They are able to see their faults and weaknesses and work on them relentlessly until they become their strengths. For them failure is not the enemy; it is their teacher.
They grow up knowing that in every venture they get into, the reality of failure is always there. But they will no longer be afraid.
When you do not fear failure, your focus will be greater. You will be able to see the opportunities that those who let fear consume them never will.
4) Encourages Teamwork
Teamwork exists in all types of sport. Even if you participate in an individual sport such as boxing, you still depend on a coach, strength and conditioning expert, sparring partners and corner men.
Talent and natural gifts can only take you so far. If you don’t learn to work with those in the team, it will be difficult to win in sports. We’ve seen it before; the athletic specimen who can run faster, jump higher and do just about everything better than anyone else.
Yet his team hardly wins because they do not play well together. In order to win, you must set aside personal interests for the greater good. You have to set aside differences so you can focus on the task at hand.
Kids who participate in sports learn early on that in any organisation, everyone carries value and can contribute to the group’s success. The challenge lies in harnessing all the talent so they can work as one.
5) Lead A Strong, Healthy And Fit Life
There is no denying the physical benefits kids get by joining a sport. Their muscles become stronger, blood and oxygen circulation are more efficient and the various physiological systems function better.
Kids who engage in sports develop important values such as discipline, commitment and respect for others. They take care of their health and stay away from potentially harmful activities.
They are more confident, self- assured and generally have a wonderful disposition. They can manage stressful situations better because participating in sports has put them in similar conditions.
Getting kids to participate in sports is not an easy task for parents. They can suggest but ultimately, it is the child who must decide which sport he or she wants to take up.
The best advice would be to let the child participate in various sports and ask him or her which one was the most enjoyable. For a child to participate and excel in a sport it must all start out as fun and games.
Parents often live vicariously through their children. They may want to re- live the past or fulfill a dream interrupted but this is the child’s life to live. It is his or her time to dream! The most important thing is that the child joins a sport they enjoy!
Physical Fitness Programs For Kids: Tips To Get Your Kids Off Their Phones And Into Fitness!
Technology is a wonderful thing. It has made life easier and more convenient. But technology has reared its ugly head by turning many kids away from the great outdoors and into the online world.
Parents yearn back to the old days when kids were more involved in sports and fitness. But can you wean a child from technology and into a physical fitness program?
Here’s how to do it…
Tip #1: Set An Example
It is not enough to talk to kids about the importance of physical fitness. As parents, it would be more effective to lead by example! Physical fitness activities do not have to be as rigid as gym class drills.
Your choice of activity should require the child to expend energy and utilise various motor skills. Its movements should develop speed, strength, agility, power and endurance that increase heart rate. Most of all, it should be fun! Finding a fun physical fitness activity for the family should not be hard.
Here are a few examples:
• Frisbee In The Park
• Half Court Basketball
• Family Tennis Tournament
• Family Sports Fest
• Swimming Relays
• Obstacle Course
• Bowling On A Friday Night
Physical Fitness as a family activity is a great and productive way to keep your child healthy, fit and active. It also makes for effective bonding time and keeps you and your husband/wife in shape!
Tip #2: Ask Them To Choose The Activity
Parents often make the mistake of expecting their child to follow in his or her footsteps. Just because your child has your DNA does not mean he or she inherited your interest or physical abilities.
You can actively pursue your child’s interest for your sport but in the end, it should be his or her choice. The best thing parents can do is be supportive. If you were an State rugby player in your UNI days but your child opted to play basketball, be there for him or her on day one.
Support is not just found by paying for your child’s basketball lessons. Support plays a bigger role in getting your child to accept failure or mistakes when he or she is still learning the basics. This is how being in a sport builds character.
At the same time, do not be an “enabler”. An enabler is someone who keeps praising the child even if his or her performance leaves a lot to be desired. Be honest with your criticism and always phrase your comments in a constructive manner.
Tip #3: Get Them Involved With The Program
Physical fitness is not just about exercise. Nutrition and rest are a big part of it too. Educate your child about the importance of nutrition but do it in the coolest classroom of all. The local supermarket!
Before you go to the supermarket, sit down with your child and plan the menu. Then write down the ingredients on a piece of paper. When you get to the supermarket, ask your child to search and find the ingredients on your list.
As your child brings an ingredient to the shopping cart explain what it is and its nutritional value. For example, your child brings an avocado to the shopping cart.
You can tell your child, “The avocado is rich in healthy fats that can lower cholesterol. We will use the avocado as a substitute for mayonnaise in our chunky chicken sandwich!”
When you get home, ask your child to help you make chunky chicken sandwiches. Give him or her the task of scooping out the avocado and mashing it until it becomes smooth and consistent.
Then build the sandwich together. Your child will enjoy what he or she created and will develop an appreciation for healthy food.
Tip #4: Do Household Chores
Okay technically household chores do not fall into any sporting category. However it is still a form of physical activity that burns calories. Have you tried gardening, mowing the lawn or washing the car? These are physically challenging activities.
Delegate household chores to everyone in the family but assign it according to age and level of physical development. For children below the age of 12, you can assign them vacuuming, light garden work or help you with cleaning the car.
Another benefit of letting your child do household chores is it gives them a sense of responsibility. They will learn that there is no type of job that is beneath them. Your child will develop a greater appreciation in the work that is done by many manual laborers.
Tip #5: Make Family Pre And Post Dinner Walks A Regular Activity
At a day and age when most households have dual income earners, time together as a family seems like a fleeting commodity. Both Mum and Dad are busy making ends meet that by the time they get home, the first thought is to prop their tired legs on an ottoman.
A better option would be to take a leisurely stroll around the park or the suburb with their child and the family pet. A stroll is an effective way to de- stress because you are able to share the day’s activities with the people you love the most.
Even at a slow pace, you will still burn calories. You can schedule the stroll either before or after dinner. If it is before dinner it could boost your metabolism and increase insulin sensitivity a bit to improve carbohydrate assimilation. If after dinner, the stroll can help with digestion.
Technology will always be a part of our lives so keeping our children away from tablets and smart phones would not serve any productive purpose. Hard ball tactics of restricting access to mobile gadgets may only heighten their need to have them.
The approach should be to encourage your child to explore the real world instead of the virtual world. Physical fitness is a great way to share with your child the way of life before technology took over.
It may change his perspective on today’s technologically- driven conveniences and develop a greater appreciation for fun and play the old school way.
Kids And Weight Lifting: The Facts
Parents only want the best for their children. In addition to enrolling their kids in the best schools money can afford, parents also want them to be engaged in other activities such as art and sports to become well-rounded individuals.
While a paint brush or a guitar does not present any risk to health, the same cannot be said for sports. Many children naturally gravitate toward sports. It is a natural extension of play time.
Eventually, play transitions to competition. And parents would always want their children to be competitive. They will hire the best coaches, buy healthy food and would sacrifice time to drive their children to training.
But one question that continues to stir debate concerns a component that is valuable for sports performance:
Is it safe for kids to lift weights?
It is a debate that has gone on for decades. Ask your father or grandfather. Chances are they had gone through the same discussions with their own parents.
The debate stems from the belief that weight lifting can stunt growth.
There are some who postulate that overhead exercises such as the Squat, Overhead Press and the Deadlift can apply compression forces on the spine and make children shorter. They point to champion weight lifters they saw on TV who appeared to be short in stature.
In the first place, that is not the basis for the argument versus weight lifting for kids. Second, weight lifting is categorised according to weight classes. The lighter lifters are more compact and therefore shorter.
Keep watching until you get to the 105 kilo heavyweights. The area of contention concerns the effect of weight lifting on growth plates.
Also referred to as the epiphyseal plate, this is developing tissue that is found at the ends of long bones of children and teenagers. Doctors contend that if the growth plate is shattered or damaged, it would lead to abnormal growth in the limb or cessation of progressive development altogether.
This train of thought led the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to issue an advisory against weight-lifting for pre-adolescent children in 1983.
Since then, numerous studies have been conducted on the effects of weight-lifting on children. Several of these studies have dispelled the fear of weight-lifting stunting growth.
One of these studies was made in 2000 by pediatric exercise scientist Avery Faigenbaum who is also a college professor at the College of New Jersey.
According to Prof. Faigenbaum as long as appropriate training guidance is provided, children who engage in weight-lifting would experience the following benefits:
- Increase bone mineral density;
- Improve motor performance skills;
- Enhance sports performance;
- Better prepare young athletes for the demands of practice and competition.
In a recent interview, Faigenbaum maintains that since the publication of his study, more people from the medical and fitness industries have made a 180-degree turn on their opinions regarding weight-lifting and children.
In fact, the AAP in 2010 denounced its 1983 statement when their own studies with the Institute of Training Science and Sports Informatics in Cologne, Germany showed the ability of weight-lifting to enhance the strength of children beginning age 6.
The study of the AAP revealed weight-lifting at a young age closed the strength gap between pre-pubescent children and those going through puberty without damaging effects on height and development.
So is weight-lifting safe for kids?
Yes, but consider the guidelines set forth by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NCSA):
- Children should be mature and behaved enough to listen to coaching and advice;
- Weight-lifting should only be part of the exercise program;
- Children should avoid sub-maximal or maximal effort and perform no fewer than 8 repetitions;
- Maintain close supervision;
- Change routines frequently to avoid overuse of muscles;
- Always focus on proper form and technique.
If the evidences and studies are not enough to convince you to put your child on a weight-lifting program, focus first on bodyweight exercises until he or she reaches the age of 13.
Then slowly introduce the child to basic, compound exercises using a program of light weights and high reps. Keep track of your child’s progress. Done properly, weight-lifting will carry over to your child’s performance in sports and improve his or her overall health and fitness.
Focusing on kids health is the goal of every parent. But life happens, and with so many external influences it’s harder than ever to get your kids to eat healthy, stay off their phone and be more active.
Which is why it’s more important for parents to take an even more active role in their children’s health… mental, physical and emotional. And physical health and activity is the best way to distract kids from their phone, social media and their own thoughts, and it focuses them in the now, builds confidence, builds drive and builds friendships.
What a great way to build a foundation for them that will serve them for the rest of their life.