Globally, physical activity levels are declining with age. The population in the UK currently has a health crisis, with obesity five times more prevalent than in previous years. Educating children early in life on the importance of good training habits, regular movement and sporting fun could be a key factor in the reduction of our expanding waistlines.
National guidelines state all children aged 5-18 years should be taking part in a minimum of an hour of moderate to vigorous activity per day. This could either be in the form of structured or unstructured exercise. For example, an hour in the park, jumping and climbing trees could be just as beneficial for health as an hour of a structured child exercise class. Obviously both have their place, and structured exercise classes can be ideal for teaching your child new skills, movements and sports. Yet with outdoor space free and easy to access, there really is no excuse for children not to be achieving the recommended guidelines of exercise.
There is an abundance of emerging research suggesting encouraging children to perform strength exercises could play a vital role in their physical development. Learning skills such as squats and deadlifts with correct form are an essential part of fundamental movement skills. Children who took part in regular strength training exercises competed at a higher level in sport in their teenage years as well as outperforming sedentary counterparts in the classroom.
We’ve written more about the long term health benefits of children weight training & tips on how to start training with your kids here
Developing strength early in your lifetime could improve how well children move, reduce injury risk as they grow, and improve movement efficiency. This ultimately has an impact on physical activity levels and sporting confidence; both key factors for a lifetime of health. Children who took part in regular physical activity reported less perceived stress and anxiety compared to more sedentary children, adding to the plethora of research supporting the use of exercise for the reduction of mental health issues.
Recent research from Edinburgh University demonstrated structured resistance training in children (8-18years) had a positive effect on the fundamental movement skills of sprinting, jumping and throwing. This study was the first review on this topic to include non-sporting participants. Results from this research indicated it would be prudent to include some form of structured strength training into all children’s weekly schedule, be it in the form of school PE or specialist classes. If we are to tackle the UK’s declining health status, starting with our youngest members of society is key; getting the future generations on the path to holistic, long term wellness.
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