Parents are always looking for new ways to keep their kids physically active. Many enthusiastic moms will sign their children up for a youth league sports team or a summer gym program, but most start hesitating once weightlifting makes an appearance. In 1983, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement that recommended against weightlifting for children due to how its high injury rates may stunt growth. It wasn’t until the late 2010s that public opinion has slowly started shifting thanks to new research.
What is the Worry?
The primary concern most fitness advisers have regarding children and weightlifting is stunted growth. Many people believed that weightlifting injuries can damage a child’s growth plates, which can then interrupt their development. A growth plate is a type of tissue that can be found at the end of long bones of teenagers and children. These plates are weaker than most other ligaments that connect bones together, which makes them more vulnerable to permanent damage. When children experience a severe impact in the joint, that impact has a chance of significantly affecting growth around that area.
In 2000, the College of New Jersey ran several studies revolving around weightlifting for children. The study concluded that – with the right training guidelines and consistent participation – a child could improve their fine motor skills and strengthen their bone density with weight training. These studies eventually led to the AAP considering a revision on their stance in the 1980s, and by 2010 the institution published a new review on how children age 6 to 18 can benefit from weight training.
What You can do as a Parent
Even with recent research, parents should still exercise caution on approaching weightlifting with their kids. It is not recommended for anyone under 6 years old to start a weight lifting routine, and any significant training should be approved by a fitness or medical expert who specializes in the field. Kids develop muscle differently than adults do, so simply minimizing an adult training program will not be appropriate for a child.
If you want your child to stay healthy, acting as an active role model yourself can help to encourage them. If you’re not sure where you can get started, try a free class with us at PumpFit Club in Fort Lauderdale.