Will lifting weights stunt their growth?
Will taking them out for runs overstress their little skeletons?
Will jumping on boxes wear out their knees?
The science is absolutely conclusive: lifting weights; jumping; running; tumbling; and even wrestling are more than just safe. They’re CRITICALLY important to develop bone density, muscle mass and metabolism in kids.
I’ve had several articles on the topic published. Here are a few, in case you’re interested.
On the reasons your kid MUST do some kind of resistance exercise, including weight lifting: http://journal.crossfit.com/2013/11/no-squats-for-coal-miners-daughter.tpl
How exercise rewires your kid’s brain:
But the myths about lifting weights harming growth plates, tightening young muscles or compressing their skeletons persist. These are sticky old myths with no scientific backing that are still repeated by old coaches. So here’s how I think about lifting weights and doing higher-impact exercise with kids.
Imagine your grandfather’s life at age 12. What was he doing all summer?
Mine was carrying water from the well, shoveling out the cattle stalls, forking hay onto a wagon, splitting wood, picking weeds out of the grain field. He probably walked 5-10 miles per day in bad shoes; hauled wood with no warmup; wrestled sheep and cattle without stretching first. All of that is resistance training. None of it had a warmup or proper “technique”. He didn’t have to buy a Monster Energy Drink to get himself fired up for his workout, and every day was full of different movements at different weights in a different order. Work was done until it was done, period. In fact, my grandfather’s life was so full of activity that he probably wouldn’t understand my career or why it’s necessary today.
Imagine what your mom did as an eight-year-old: she jumped off snowbanks (sometimes even jumped off the garage roof into a snowbank!) She carried her books from class to class. She rode her bike everywhere, or walked. Maybe she pulled a wagon full of newspapers down the street. She swam in the lake and climbed the trees.
Maybe she fell down once or twice. Maybe she even spent a summer in a cast (but not likely).
The myth that hard work stunts a kid’s growth? It came from a ridiculous “study” from 1842, in which some British chaps visited coal mines in which little kids worked for 16 hours per day, bent over, in low light, with almost no food. They got rickets, they got hunchbacks, they got the black lung. Most, sadly, died before age 30. Here’s that article again: http://journal.crossfit.com/2013/11/no-squats-for-coal-miners-daughter.tpl
We know better now. The reality is that kids who run, jump, play, pull and lift stuff have FAR fewer injuries than kids who don’t. They develop a strong metabolism that will help them beat diabetes and obesity-related conditions later in life. They’re more resistant to dangerous viruses, and bounce back faster when they get sick. The bone density they develop before age 18 can prevent osteoporosis when they’re 80. And so on.
Our duty to our kids is to help them build a body that works better.
The body they create before age 18 can carry them toward health at age 58…or toward illness. It’s sad, but it’s true.
The best exercise for kids is constantly varied; functional; and fun. If they WANT to exercise, you’ve won. There’s nothing better than an excited face in the back seat on your way to the rink, field or gym!