My 12 year-old daughter is interested in joining me in the gym, but I have heard that strength training is unsafe for children and will stunt their growth. Is this true? What kinds of physical activity can she do safely?

I am thrilled to hear that your daughter wants to follow your example by becoming more fit. And, with appropriate supervision and instruction from a fitness professional, the risks associated with strength training are not greater than other activities which children regularly participate. The key is to provide her with closer supervision and an age-specific program in a safe training environment. As far as “stunting her growth”, scientific findings indicate no evidence of a decreased stature in children who regularly perform strength exercise in a controlled environment. In fact, in addition to increasing muscular strength, power and endurance, participation in a youth strength training program has the potential to positively influence aerobic fitness, body composition, blood lipids, insulin sensitivity, bone mineral density, and selected psychological measures.

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