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Is Weight Lifting Effective for 14-Year-Olds?

By Mary Marcia Brown

Many adults understand that running, playing and participating in sports are all healthy activities for their children. They understand that the aerobic element of such activities is heart healthy and burns calories effectively. Their understanding begins to cloud, however, when adults question the effectiveness of another type of exercise: weight training. While the American Council on Exercise gives the nod of approval for children to begin training with weights as early as seven or eight, they will experience even more of the beneficial results of weight training during their teenage years.

Healthier Bodies

When teenagers perform strength training exercises for 20 to 30 minutes, two to three days each week, they will see noticeable physical benefits in a matter of weeks. Weight training will effectively lead to improvements with teenagers' muscular fitness, bone density and body composition. To realize the optimal physical benefits of weight training, it is important for teenagers to start slowly, lift an appropriate amount of weight, take breaks after sets, and train with supervision.

Improved Performance

Weight training is also effective in helping teenagers improve their athletic performance. Weight training improves strength, flexibility and muscle balance that all play important roles in athletic aptitude. Teenagers who lift weights can often run faster and move with more power and agility. When combined with cardiovascular exercise, weight training can also reduce the risk of sports-related injuries by 50 percent.

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Mental and Emotional Mojo

The powerful effects of weight training for teenagers are not confined to physical health and performance. In addition to the physically noticeable strength strides, teenagers who train with weights also show significant improvements in self-esteem and cognitive discipline. They feel better about themselves and gain the confidence that allows them to believe they are capable of much more than they originally thought possible -- both with weights and without.

Fun and Friendship

The social benefits of training with weights are also evidence of the exercise's positive effects for teenagers. As teenagers become stronger, more confident and better athletes, they are more willing to become consistently engaged in athletic activities with others. In addition to being effective, these activities can be fun. They can also lead to an early formed habit of getting both the three to five days of recommended cardiovascular exercise and the two to three days of strength training exercise that kids need through their teen years and for a lifetime.

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