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Strength Training for Kids

Teach your child of the benefits of strength training. Taking him or her to the gym can be a fun and educational experience.

Strength Training for Kids

Another way to work out with your child is to take her with you to the gym. Some YMCAs and health clubs now offer special equipment and classes just for kids.

The demand for children's fitness programs has even led to a health club in Chicago that is exclusively for kids. It plans to open franchises in other cities.

Tales from the Safety Zone

A device invented by obesity researchers at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York could become the next hot trend in exercise for kids. According to USA Today, the researchers hooked a stationary bike to a TV that would work only if the bike were peddled. Overweight children ages 8 to 12 were randomly assigned either to the TV-bike or to a TV that simply had a stationary bike in front of it. The kids who had to pedal to run the TV chose to bike an average of an hour a week, the others only eight minutes.

A key part of these programs is strength training to improve muscles and build bones. Although strength training was long thought to be unnecessary—and perhaps even unsafe—for children, current research shows that if done correctly it's beneficial for all ages, from kids to seniors.

What's Strength Training?

Moving against resistance, such as when you lift weights or do push-ups, are types of strength training. This is not the same as body-building, an adult competitive sport.

Girls who shun the idea of lifting weights for fear of developing bulging muscles shouldn't worry. Their bodies don't have the hormones necessary for it. Strength training is especially important for helping girls build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis later in life.

A strength training program includes a series of exercises aimed at increasing the strength, endurance, and power of muscles. Kids who do this will be less likely to be injured in sports and will have more stamina when they play. Research shows kids ages 7 to 12 can increase their strength by approximately 40 percent in an 8- to 12-week program of two or three weekly sessions.

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