If You Want Healthy Children, Start with Yourself!

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Question: I am worried about my son who is overweight. I know he needs to exercise but I don’t know how early he should start. He is 11 now so is that too early to begin to lift weights?
Answer: Eleven years old is not too early to start working out with weights as long as you follow a few guidelines. Teaching good form for the exercises is a must. The amount of weight you use should be enough to allow your son to feel the way his muscles move but it should not be a strain. Repetition helps to establish the motor patterns. the reps should be 8 to 12 reps for 2 to 3 sets of an exercise. Once a boy reaches puberty and begins to have higher levels of testosterone you will see more muscular changes. Until then, you will notice strength gains and some size differences. After motor skills are well established then you can gradually increase the weight. Still keep the rep ranges between 6 and 10 and good form is still enforced. Use basic, multi-joint exercises like bench presses, squats, pull-ups, pulldowns, rows, shoulder presses, curls and pressdowns.
Another requirement for training with kids is to make it fun. Lifting weights can be fun as long as small goals are set and they are ones that can be reached with a little work. The feeling of accomplishment in reaching those goals is as important to kids as it is to adults. Make games out of some of the challenges. Finally keep the training brief. 30 to 45 minutes is enough two days a week. To help younger kids begin exercising, use bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, squats and lunges at home. Tag, dodgeball, kickball and other physically active games teach movement without being drudgery.
The childhood obesity epidemic which is grossly exaggerated by the media could be reduced tremendously if one thing changes. While it is true that a much higher percentage of kids are overweight than they were 20 or 30 years ago and an alarming number of them are obese it is not entirely the fault of the soft drink companies, fast food establishments or school lunches. The burden of it rests predominantly on the parents who make easy choices to buy fast food instead of cooking and who drink way too much soda themselves. It is the fault of parents who are not active for their health or their kids health. It is the fault of parents who are too busy with making a living, on the phone, on Facebook, watching television or playing video games who don’t see the damage they do to themselves or the next generation.
If you want your children to be healthy, set and live the example. Kids mimic their parents more than parents want to realize.
God bless and keep training,
Daryl

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