Why should parents work on improving their kid’s strength & endurance?

Written by Dr. Tejal Kanwar
Published: March 22, 2024
Gynecologist and obstetrician with expertise in Adolescent Health. Founder of Kleinetics Fitness, a leading tech enabled kids fitness program. Winner of the best physical education and sports education program by The Indian Education Awards 2020.

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Have you seen your kid play on the playground? It’s a sheer display of boundless energy, stamina and pure joy. Kids are born naturally energetic, and genetically endowed. They can go on and on and play all day long easily beating grownups in endurance and stamina. 

Over the last 2 decades with the increased onslaught of devices and screen time, access and ease of getting onto a playground to move and play more have reduced. This has resulted in an epidemic of childhood laziness and various lifestyle disorders in girls and boys. 

Children cannot be blamed for this as the use of screens and online learning methods cannot be escaped with the world continuing to get connected virtually. Parents need to consciously find better ways to escape the passive screen time and get active in pursuing what is best for their kids. Thus, parenting involves a conscious understanding and comprehension of the challenges that children face in terms of physical activities and sports pursuits which ultimately leads to their overall physical and mental development.

It is the responsibility of the parents to follow a balanced routine with their kids. Indulging in an equal amount of physical activity is important along with focusing on academics. 

As children crawl, walk, run or jump throughout their developmental milestones, their muscle strength and endurance get built. If these milestones are delayed or the child lacks the correct movement for that appropriate age, it needs evaluation and intervention. For example, if a child gets tired easily and frequently complains of sore limbs and needs excess energy to complete a physical task, then the child would need to be seen by a physiotherapist. The adequate exposure of the child to various structured physical fitness programs, sports and unstructured free play also needs to be assessed in this case. To conclude, it’s important to practice the right strength and endurance-build programs from an early age to alleviate the above-mentioned concerns.

Children can function much better in sports & throughout their day if optimal strength and endurance training start at an early age.

Sports and games are not just for athletes and players. It is for every kid and adult. For this, we need to understand the benefits of improving one’s strength and endurance for sports and for a better active and fit life leading to happiness.

Strength training in kids is very different from strength training in adults. While strength training in adults tends to build muscle, children usually increase strength through neurological adaptations. So, parents don’t have to worry about any bulking of muscles or stunting growth if they provide proper strength training to their kids.

The advantages of working on the strength and endurance of children at an early age are plenty. The objectives and goals on why parents need to pay special attention on building their kid’s strength and endurance are discussed below:

1. Carrying on daily activities without fatigue – Children with adequate strength and endurance should do their daily tasks at school and home without feeling tired.

The benefits of strength and endurance training are often seen in everyday activities like carrying heavy school bags, climbing multiple steps in school and even sitting through an exam. To sit and do work at a desk or in a classroom needs good posture, balance and strength of the back muscles. For example long hours of sitting in classroom or even playing a board game need good endurance skills of muscles. 

Also, children requires strength and endurance skills while playing with friends like kicking a ball or running to catch someone quickly. These skills are trainable and make kids confident on the field.

2. Better Sports performance and reduction of injuries – Providing sport-specific strength and endurance training to the kids will decrease the chances of injury related to that sport significantly. If the muscle is not strong enough, it is at a risk for injury while playing a particular sport. Thus, in order to optimise a kid’s sports performance, a well-designed strength and conditioning training under a certified coach is non-negotiable. Whether your child is into team sports like football, or solo sports like gymnastics & dance, lifting weights can help to minimise joint imbalances and maximise bone and muscle strength. Because children’s training is more functional than for aesthetic purposes, the focus of the training must be on multiple joints and large muscle groups.

3. Improvement in flexibility – Due to the large range of motion of joints during strength training, there is an improvement in kids’ mobility and flexibility.

4. Improvement in immunity – The general health of children and overall disease-fighting abilities improve with an increase in strength and endurance. 

5. Reduction in the risk of heart disease – Physical fitness can counteract the risk factors of heart disease. A good program improves children’s body composition (fat-to-muscle ratio) and cardiovascular endurance, thus alleviating various high risks like obesity, fat accumulation, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Any form of exercise is beneficial for mitigating the risks of serious disease. Yet resistance training, in particular, is especially potent improving quality of life. 

6. Better bone health –  Regular physical activity improves posture and increases bone density to create stronger bones and helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis in both esp. in women. With stronger muscles, come strong tendons and bones and thus an injury-free life. 

7. Improved insulin sensitivity – While building muscle, resistance training helps melt the fat away, works wonders on insulin metabolism and improves the sensitivity of insulin. 

8. Mental strength development – Higher focus and better interest in studying results in improved academic performance. Sports play a major role in inculcating discipline, thanks to their set of different rules. Problem solving skills & taking responsibility for setbacks and failures of the team thus facilitates leadership qualities on the playground which helps in building child’s overall personality.  A clear goal setting is required in any sport or game that  drives the kids to achieve success and deal with failures. 

The overall resilience of the child is developed with strength and endurance training which they can utilise in sports.

9. Psychological benefits of training– Once a child starts seeing results from the training, it instils a stronger sense of self-worth, improves emotional stability, discipline and self-control.  Sports also help to cope up with stress and anxiety. 

10. Better sleep – Kids who regularly indulge in strength training have a better quality of sleep 

11. Social benefits – When kids participate in group classes, be it physical or otherwise, it helps them to strengthen their peer relationships. A good holistic fitness program makes a kid more active, optimistic, friendly and productive. Confidently participating in sports helps kids build social skills and develop lifelong friends. 

To  conclude, strength and endurance training programs must become mandatory in schools and the best part is – it doesn’t need to be complicated. Keeping it fun and basic that is capable to work wonders!

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The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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