Q: My 10-year-old son wants to start weight training for football. Is he old enough for this type of activity?
A. Generally, a child ready for participation in sports activity may be ready to resistance train, says Tim Burton, M.Ed., lecturer in physical education at the USC College of Letters, Arts and Science and assistant coach for the USC baseball team. "Current evidence indicates resistance training to be a safe and effective method of exercise for youth provided appropriate guidelines are followed," he says. When appropriate guidelines are followed, Burton says regular participation in weight-bearing physical activities will likely have a positive influence on bone growth and musculoskeletal development. In addition, resistance training programs offer significant health and fitness benefits in body composition, muscular strength and endurance, motor skill development and improved self-esteem. However, he says certain guidelines need to be followed, such as ensuring qualified professional supervision in a safe environment, including proper instruction on equipment and development of an age-specific program. Burton also recommends always consulting a physician before beginning any type of weight training program.
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