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  • Resistance Training for Kids Can Be Safe and Beneficial When Well-Supervised

    Children may benefit from resistance training—but only if the program is professionally supervised and customized to the individual child's age, motor skill level, emotional maturity, and other factors. That's the bottom line of a position statement recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the North American Society for Pediatric Exercise Medicine, the National Athletic Trainers' Association, and several other organizations.

    The "Position statement on youth resistance training: The 2014 International Consensus" states that "there is now a compelling body of scientific evidence that supports regular participation in youth resistance training" as a way to combat inactivity, reduce sports-related injury, and instill lifelong fitness habits.

    That doesn't mean, however, that kids should start pumping as much iron as they can lift for as many reps as they can endure, according to the statement. Professionals must carefully evaluate a constellation of factors, and then develop a supervised program that responds to the physical, emotional, and intellectual realities of the child—an approach at the heart of the work done by physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. APTA has a history of advocacy for the importance of physical conditioning and wellness instruction for children, and offers resources on family exercise at its consumer-focused Move Forward site.

    The statement asserts that the real focus of a safe program should be on "developing the technical skill and competency [of the child] to perform a variety of resistance training exercises at the appropriate intensity and volume, while providing youth with an opportunity to participate in programmes that are safe, effective and enjoyable." The statement's release was first reported in a Reuters Health article.

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