Exercise for Health in Children and Adolescents
Children and adolescents needs vary based on maturation of the youth. It is important to note that this group is important to focus on due to the developmental stages of the human body. In training youth there is no set minimum age but as a rule of thumb it is accepted that most 7 and 8 year olds are ready for participation in some form of structured exercise or sport.
Basic Exercise Guidelines:
- NOTE: Proper instruction and learning of exercise technique, skill-based progression, and age-related training principles should be part of all youth exercise programs and it is important to modify exercise guidelines for children and adolescents in order to match the physical and psychosocial characteristics of the children
- aerobic activity should include a variety of basic/foundational movement skills such as balancing, jumping, kicking, and throwing. Using items such as hoops, ropes, cones, and playground balls for games that are less competitive in nature can keep children moving and motivated without fear of failure
- inactive youth can begin with 20 or 30 minutes and gradually accumulate at least 60 minutes or more on all or most days of the week.
- when appropriate intermittent vigorous bouts can be woven into activity to further enhance fitness levels
- resistance training can be a safe and effective way to enhance motor performance in youth provided that age-appropriate training guidelines are followed
- bodyweight exercises and different types of equipment, including free weights (i.e., barbells and dumbbells), child-size machines, elastic bands, and medicine balls, can be used in youth resistance training programs
- incorporate multijoint movements in youth programs because these exercises require the coordinated action of many muscle groups
- rest between resistance exercise sets should be approximately 1 minute depending on intensity and technical nature of exercise
- resistance exercise should be of moderate intensity (40%-80% of 1 RM) with a rep range of 6-15, for up to 3 sets, 2-3 days per week on non-consecutive days per week