Cultivating the seeds of a healthy lifestyle should start early – but how early do we translate that into gym visits? This is a question often posed by parents eager to instill fitness habits in their kids. Let’s delve into the complexities of this issue.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that formal strength training (like lifting weights) can begin as early as 7-8 years old when children typically have the balance, control, and postural skills necessary. Before this age, supervised free play and exercises that use their own body weight, like jumping jacks, push-ups, or modified pull-ups, should suffice for physical fitness.

However, it’s important not to equate the gym with adult routines. For children and teenagers, the focus should be on exercises that promote healthy bone, muscle, and joint development, and improve balance and coordination, rather than achieving a certain aesthetic or “bulk up”.

Before your child joins a gym

1. Medical Check: Before beginning any new fitness routine, a doctor should examine your child to ensure they’re physically ready.

2. Professional Supervision: A qualified trainer experienced in working with children should supervise your child at all times.

3. Age-Appropriate Activities: The gym activities should match your child’s age, size, and physical development. 

4. Emphasize Fun: To foster a lifelong love for exercising, keep the gym sessions enjoyable and non-competitive.

As with all physical activities, rest periods are crucial. If your child complains of any pain or discomfort during or following a workout, they should stop the activity and consult a healthcare provider.

Remember, the goal of gym sessions or any sports activity in kids is not to produce mini bodybuilders but to set the foundation for a lifelong commitment to physical fitness. So let’s instill these habits early, creating a healthier future-one rep at a time!

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Anthony Emecheta

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