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Muscle Strength & Bone Health

Muscle and bone-strengthening activities improve muscle strength and power, bone health, and reduces the risk of injuries.

Building Strong Muscles and Bones »

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. -Frederick Douglass

As part of the 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day that children should get, muscle- and bone-strengthening activity should be included on at least 3 days per week. 

Strength training isn't only for athletes. Even if a child isn't interested in sports, strength training

helps maintain a healthy weight by increasing caloric use both during exercise and rest, which in turn reduces the risk of obesity. It also builds stronger tendons, ligaments and general joint health which reduces the risk of serious injury, helps promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improves confidence and self-esteem and strengthens the growing children’s bones.

Building healthy bones in childhood is critical to help prevent osteoporosis and fractures later in life. Up to 90 percent of peak bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys, which makes youth the best time for children to “invest” in their bone health. The health habits children are forming can make, or literally break, their bones as they age.

Strength training does not necessarily mean pumping iron, bodybuilding, or powerlifting.  In fact, the most appropriate term is really ‘resistance training’.  Resistance training includes movement against any resistance including body weight, resistance bands, machines, dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells. For the younger, inexperienced individuals, technique should be emphasized over load (or resistance). This means that foundational movements using body weight like squatting, lunging, pushups and pullups can be used as an introduction to strength/resistance training.

Many people have a misunderstanding about the concerns for the safety and efficacy of strength training. For those naysayers, there is a compelling body of scientific evidence documented and endorsed by major scientific and medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and National Strength and Conditioning Association supporting the participation of youth in appropriately designed resistance training programs that are supervised and instructed by qualified individuals.

Aerobic Exercise + Strength/Resistance Training = Healthy and Fit Kids

Just like a well-balanced meal, a steady diet of aerobic exercise, strength/resistance training and fundamental movement skills will develop children into healthy, fit and robust bodies. So remember, 1 hour or more every day of movement and at least 3 days per week of muscle-and bone-building exercise.

Learn more » Pediatric Exercise and Genomics Research Center (PERC)

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