In the United States at least one child in five is overweight and the number continues to grow each day. Over the past two decades, the number of children who are overweight, as well as the number of grossly obese children has more than doubled. And no, children do not out grow it. Overweight children are at a higher risk of becoming unhealthy adolescents and adults. And, it’s overweight adults who are most at risk for a number of problems including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and all forms of cancer. Overweight in children and adolescents is generally caused by lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of the two, with genetics and lifestyle both playing important determining roles. Children whose family members are overweight are also at an increased risk of becoming overweight, although not all children with an obese family will become overweight. However, it is more likely then not, shared family behaviors such as bad eating habits and lack of activity will have an impact on a child’s body weight.
Our society has become very sedentary with television, computer and video games contributing to children’s inactive lifestyles. Children are spending less time playing outdoors and more time watching TV or sitting in front of their computers, and as a result, they’re getting heavier. In fact 43% of adolescents watch more than 2 hours of television each day, and only half of U.S. children get as much exercise as they need. As a result, children are displaying signs of heart disease and diabetes before they even reach their teens.
The good news is that almost any kind of physical activity can help prevent the rising tide of obesity. In addition, studies have found that physically active children are far less susceptible to emotional problems, are more likely to stay away from drugs, resist smoking cigarettes, delay sexual activity; develop more self-confidence and higher self-esteem, and even get better grades.
In addition to competitive and recreational sports, weight training has become increasingly popular as an effective method of exercise for preadolescents and adolescents. From Hercules to Arnold Schwarzenegger, the image of the muscular hero has inspired children for generations. And now, perhaps more than ever, physical education experts are encouraging kids to hit the weights. The benefits of weight training in the preadolescent and adolescent population outweigh any possible risks. Improved muscular strength, endurance and flexibility; prevention of bone loss and osteoporosis; improved self-image, confidence and well-being; improved motor coordination and sports performance; decreased risk of injury; lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels; weight maintenance; neuromuscular therapy and physical rehabilitation; improved aerobic capacity; and the promotion of a lifelong lifestyle of physical activity can all be attributed to weight training.
Weight training also offers particular advantages to children who are overweight and struggle to keep up with their peers in more traditional sports. By lifting weights, children can improve their strength, endurance and coordination, enhancing their performance in other sports. And, when they lift … Read More