Encouraging children to do strength-based exercises could play a vital role in their physical development, a study suggests.
Researches believed strength training – such as squats, leg press and deadlifts – is an essential part of fundamental movement skill development.
The exercises enhance muscle strength at a young age and prepare children for being physically active throughout their life.
Experts now warn that youngsters who do not enhance muscular strength and fundamental movement skills (FMS) early in life may not be able to participate in a variety of activities and sports as they get older.
Helen Collins, a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh and a Sport and Exercise Scientist at the University of Dundee, said: “The finding that resistance training has a positive impact on FMS suggests that children could improve how well they can move by taking part in this mode of exercise.
“This could ultimately have an effect on physical activity levels, which is crucial for sustaining and promoting good health in childhood and later life.”
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh analysed 33 data sets from existing research that examined the effects of resistance training on FMS in 542 young people from 11 countries.
Participants – aged between eight and 18 – were from Canada, USA, Tunisia, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, UK, Brazil, Norway and Portugal.
The study is the first review on this topic to include non-sporting participants and shows that isolated resistance training has a positive effect on the FMS of sprinting, jumping and throwing.
It comes as physical activity levels are declining with age across the globe.
This is despite current guidelines for children aged five to 18 that recommend at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day and taking part in activities that strengthen muscle and bone at least three days a week.
These contribute to the development of healthy bones, muscles and joints and a healthy cardiovascular system, experts say.
They also facilitate maintenance of healthy body weight, provide psychological benefits and reduce the risk of several diseases.