Youth Workouts: Advanced

Linda Melone, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer

Regular exercise and playing sports benefits children from both a musculoskeletal and cardiovascular perspective. Children also develop coordination and a sense of self-discipline, according to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. And, although children are not motivated to exercise for health reasons, keeping them active can prevent future adult health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease. Participating in sports also enables children to recognize the importance of a healthy body. With regular practice, these habits may last into adulthood and for the remainder of the child's life.

If your child is active in sports, he or she should focus on proper technique and basic movement skills related to the specific sport. Physicians recommend that children cross-train with more than one sport to avoid foot, ankle and other overuse injuries. Alternating cycling or swimming with a sport such as soccer, for example, can ease stress on lower extremities. Pediatricians also recommend that a child should not specialize in one sport until the late teens, when the growth plates finish closing (ages 15 to 17 for boys, 13 to 15 for girls). Until then, children may be more susceptible to injury.

Also, keep the focus on building teamwork, social and fitness skills; pressuring a child to be an elite athlete or “the best” on the team can be detrimental to him or her, both mentally and emotionally.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Have your child warm up thoroughly to loosen muscles and prevent injuries, performing light jogging and stretching (hold stretches for 10-30 seconds)
  • Choose proper footwear with good support
  • Keep two pairs of shoes and rotate them to avoid excessive wear
  • Increase the time spent and intensity of sessions—but keep it fun!
  • Set a goal of a minimum of 60 minutes a day
  • Alternate activities and practice cross training to avoid boredom and prevent overuse injuries

Fun Activities for Your Child

Mix and match these activities and create your own versions to keep it fun. Do each activity for a total of 60 minutes, or work up to 60 minutes over the course of two weeks.

Week 1

Monday - Running/interval training—use a stop watch and see how much you can improve
Tuesday -Trek up the advanced hiking trails
Wednesday - Play full-court basketball at a local club or playground
Thursday - Swimming or other non-impact sport
Friday - Sign up for resistance training classes for you and your child

Week 2

Monday - Practice a home workout strength program with pushups and crunches
Tuesday - Practice running intervals
Wednesday - Mountain bike on trails
Thursday - Take a dance class
Friday - Repeat a favorite activity of the past week

Once you've exhausted your own ideas, speak with a certified fitness professional or your child’s physical education teacher to help you take the next step.

This content was provided by American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the world's largest sports medicine and exercise science organization and proud content provider for NBA FIT