A: The idea that working out with weights will stunt your growth is an age old myth but one the really has no scientific basis.
The growth of bones occurs when the growth plates that are located at the ends of the bones form new bone. This process is regulated hormonally although it can be adversely affected by things like trauma. However, the force that is generated by the action of resistance training is not significant enough to adversely effect the growth process.
Weight or resistance strength training actually allows you to develop stronger muscles and bones and helps build your confidence. In addition, it benefits you as you participate in other sports since resistance training helps with balance and endurance. One of the most important concepts to keep in mind as you perform resistance exercise is to maintain the proper form in order to minimize injury and stress on the joints and maximize muscle strength. The greatest benefits are achieved when you perform 8-12 repetitions with weight that is slightly difficult to move.
On a final note, weight training is a great way to combat obesity that stems from inactivity and helps to encourage you to follow a healthy diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
As for the proper age for starting exercise, there really is no exact age, but you should be mature enough to pay attention and follow instructions in order to avoid injury. So, after you check with your parents and get an “ok” from your doctor, feel free to enjoy your Total Gym or other resistance or weight training type activity and have a safe healthy summer.
Until next time,
Elizabeth Salada, MD
Dr. Salada is board certified in Internal Medicine and has been in practice in San Diego since 1996. She attended medical school at Wake Forest University where she received high honors in Family Practice and Internal Medicine. Her final training was obtained from Pennsylvania State University where she completed her residency in Internal Medicine. Visit Dr. Salada’s website for more information:http://elizabethsaladamd.com.