The importance of exercise in childhood development is beyond any discussion and we all realize that kids are more and more engaging in a sedentary lifestyle much like adults. So, it is very important to educate your child in healthy habits and to help develop a workout routine that is suitable for him or her.
The question that is posed in this article is: should a bodybuilding workout be included in that routine?
To start, let us define what constitutes a muscle building exercise. It is an exercise that focuses on specific muscles or group of muscles and normally relies on weight (whether some type of workout material, like dumbbells, or the individual own body weight) to result in an increase of the muscle or muscles it targets.
As children grow, their muscles, skeleton, tendons and ligaments are constantly changing and are sometimes more fragile. When training with exercises that intend to build muscle, normal wear and tear happens. However, this may affect the child’s physical development, now and in his adulthood. Plus, his or hers small frame may not be able to sustain this increase in mass, resulting in injuries. This is very common in teenage athletes.
However, a workout program has a lot of benefits as it helps to prevent different chronic health problems later in life. Most significantly, weight bearing exercises promote skeletal development by stimulating the growth of osteoclasts, cells that build bone. In this sense, one might say that the exercises that make muscles bigger also make the bones stronger, protecting them from deterioration in old age, as seen in osteoporosis.
We have already discussed the physical consequences of this type of exercise, but what about the emotional and social ones? Adolescence, in particular, is a time of doubt and of search for an identity. With the images that our teenagers are bombarded by the media, their sense of value revolves around their exterior. Especially with boys, workouts that generate an increased muscle weight gain might make them more confident and secure, but it also might lead to an obsession and mask other and more severe problems.
The majority of activities dedicated to children are based in group sports that not only help them develop physically but that also give them the tools to prosper in life, such as the skill of being a team player and the will to persevere. They might boost muscle mass but not to a point that is detrimental to their health, provided the child does not play at a very competitive level.
In conclusion, muscle building exercises may be added to kids’ workouts, but never forgetting that their bodies are still growing. Parents should be attentive and participative. Play sports with your kids! Their physical and emotional well being will profit a lot. And so will yours, not to mention your waist.