What age is it appropriate for a child to start working out?

As the childhood obesity epidemic continues, many are looking to remedy this problem not only with diet, but also with exercise. However, there is confusion over when it is appropriate for a child or young adult to begin working out in a gym.

There have been concerns that lifting weights could be dangerous due to stress on growing muscles, tendons, and growth plates. Most are in agreement that intense training could be in fact dangerous for children. However sub maximal training can be extremely beneficial to a child or young adult.

As a child’s body is growing they are also learning movement patterns. With proper instruction correct learning could prevent injury and enhance athletic activities. It also promotes confidence in children when they are taking control of their health and well-being during a time when their bodies are changing.

When developing a fitness program for a younger person it only makes sense that the program match the ability of the participant. Therefore most programs should begin with very basic movements and light weights, if any. As ability increases the fitness program can become. more advanced. However, reasonable goals should be set. The goal of the young person should be to make gradual improvements in cardiovascular capacity, as well as muscular strength. As a child is developing, aggressive strength building or cardiovascular programs are not appropriate. They are at a point where not only their body is maturing, but also their coordination. When designing a program for this for this population these changes should be kept in mind.

Keeping these factors in mind, a young person can start working out once they have the maturity and focus to execute a safe workout. Not only will there be benefits from having a healthy body, but it will come hand in hand with increased confidence and self esteem. Its never too early to begin good habits that will hopefully last a lifetime.