Fitness for Kids: When Should Children Hit the Gym?
You may have seen pictures of children with abs and muscles and wondered, if that is the right way to keep your child fit. Arnav Sarkar, our fitness instructor from Kolkata advises us on the right age to begin gyming and if children should lift weights.
It is important to stay fit at all ages. Does that mean that 5 year olds should visit the local gym to stay fit? Arnav says, “In some countries there are parents who start their kids with weightlifting at the age of 5. So a child can start at any age really! Under a good coach he/she will not face any physical-negative side effects for doing so.”
Are there different guidelines for children? “The basics stay the same as with adults. There must be suitable and safe loading, proper form must be maintained, and weights should be added gradually,” informs Arnav. If children want to workout, it is essential to find a good coach.
Could there be negative side effects for training children at an early age? Arnav Sarkar refutes these claims, “There are no negative side effects physically, unless they train with bad form. And the saying that lifting weights will stunt one's height, is untrue. There can however be some negative side effects on the emotional side.”
He further explains, “While I have seen some very good performances from kids in weight training, I am not sure if weight training is the best activity for kids below the age of 15, or atleast 14. No, there are no negative physical side effects. However there are some possible negative emotional side effects to consider.”
“Most gyms have adults as members and a kid training in such an environment is likely to feel lonely,” states Arnav.
So, he explains the importance of sports in a child’s life, “In general weight training is not a team activity, and for kids I prefer group activities like a sport, which I feel helps a child a lot more in the long run. Taking part in group physical activities helps the child to develop a better sociable personality, and also keeps them motivated as they work as a team.”
Arnav Sarkar who has his own blog Sarkar Training concludes, “Also, one needs to keep in mind that there are not many weight lifting competitions for kids. Whereas most other sports offer kids a chance to compete, which makes it more exciting for them. Plus, if a kid wants to lift weights to build a lot of muscle size, then he won’t really be able to do that before the age of 15.”
*Images courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images