ACE Recommends Strength Training to Address Obesity

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Strength Training

ACE Recommends Strength Training as a Safe and Effective Way to Help Address Youth Inactivity and Obesity

American children are increasingly overweight and one more way to steer them toward an active lifestyle is through strength training. Unfortunately, many long-standing myths and misconceptions have fostered a belief that strength training may be ineffective and potentially unsafe for youngsters. According to the Youth Strength Training book recently published by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's Authority on Fitness, strength training is a safe and effective option for most children age 7 and older.

Research has clearly and consistently shown that supervised strength training is an extremely safe and beneficial form of physical activity for young people. There has not been a single reported serious injury in all of the prospective studies published on youth strength training. Youngsters who start strength training at an early age tend to have better attitudes toward fitness including improved self-esteem, mental discipline and socialization skills.

"Although aerobic exercise and eating sensibly are routinely recommended for young children, strength training can also bring benefits of improved musculoskeletal fitness, body composition and injury resistance," said Dr. Cedric Bryant, ACE chief exercise physiologist. "With regard to strength training, it is imperative that children participate in programs that are designed and supervised by competent health and fitness professionals."

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ACE suggests the following tips when a child begins a strength training routine:

  • Children should begin with two, non-consecutive weight training sessions per week and perform eight to 12 strength exercises that work all of the major muscle groups.

  • Using controlled movement speed, children should lift enough weight for 10-15 repetitions per set.

  • Children should increase their weight load by five to 10 percent whenever 15 repetitions can be done easily.

  • Try working with medicine balls and resistance bands in addition to weight machines or weights to add variety to the child's workout.

ACE's new book Youth Strength Training, written by two internationally-recognized experts in youth strength training (Avery D. Faigenbaum, Ed.D. and Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D.), is now available. Visit www.acefitness.org for more information or to order. The article "Strength Training for 21st Century Kids," with excerpts from Youth Strength Training, was printed in the December 2004/January 2005 edition of ACE Certified News.

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