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Myth or Fact: Weightlifting at a Young Age Can Stunt a Child’s Growth

Posted Date: 11/15/2012
Weight lifting stunt growthWith the child obesity epidemic at a national high, many parents are looking for fun ways to encourage exercise. However, many question whether certain exercises, such as weight training, can harm a child and stunt their growth. We asked Dr. Mara Karamitopoulos, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon, to set the record straight.

“There is no evidence that exercise or weightlifting, or weight training, at a young age stunts growth,” asserts Dr. Karamitopoulos. “Really the important thing to consider is preventing injury – which is making sure that an exercise is age and developmental stage appropriate.” For children aged 2-10 years old, most exercise is seen as ‘creative’ or ‘free-play’ with structured activities. “It’s recommended that children as young as three get more than one hour of free play every day,” notes Dr. Karamitopoulos.  She adds that sports can be introduced with adult supervision at a young age, but parents must ensure that activities are appropriate for their child’s developmental level.

A study published by the Journal of Pediatrics states that “appropriate strength-training programs have no apparent adverse effect on linear growth, growth plates, or the cardiovascular system.” Dr. Karamitopoulos believes that it is generally OK for children over the age of 12 or 13 years old to participate in weight training activities, preferably those that incorporate low weight, high rep movements. “After the age of about 12, really all adult exercise activities are fine as long as there is adult supervision,” she states.

Verdict: MYTH – Children are free to weight train, as long as they are properly supervised and engage in activities appropriate for their age and developmental stage. Dr. Karamitopoulos also recommends that the focus for children and teens should be to keep moving. “As kids get older, they spend more time in front of a screen. It is recommended that they get 1 hour of activity at least 5 days a week.” She notes that this physical activity can include sports, or the child’s daily commute.

Dr. Mara Karamitopoulos,
Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist

Dr. Mara Karamitopoulos treats a wide variety of conditions including fractures and injuries, pediatric sports injuries, congenital deformities and neuromuscular conditions. Dr. Karamitopoulos has received the Medical Student Education award, as well as the Mark D. Chilton Award for outstanding patient care.

To make an appointment, call: (718) 283-6520
For more information, click here

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