by Reese Jones
It’s no secret that kids need physical exercise. It’s a great way to get them moving, allowing them to release all their energy instead of staring at screens all day.
One of the biggest challenges parents face is not whether your child should get into exercise, but which exercise to do. From after-school team sports to individual activities like dance or martial arts, it can be difficult to find the perfect activity for your child.
This is where strength training comes in. A lot of adults, whether they’re athletes or regular fitness buffs, credit strength training with increasing their endurance and keeping them in top form. Younger athletes can reap the rewards too, provided they practice in a safe environment.
Unlike many forms of strength training, kettlebell training is a dynamic, functional and full body workout. Multiple planes of movement are used, it’s not just picking things up and putting them down.
In a 2015 interview with the ICKB Girls, coach Sara Nelson credits kettlebell’s range of movement as similar to dynamic play. We tend to associate kettlebell exercises with heavy weights, which is why having kids do it might be cause for concern. That said, the full-body movement of swinging a kettlebell can be a lot of fun for kids.
Kettlebell training can also improve their concentration, as your child will need to engage their core, glutes, and thighs in order to execute a proper swing. Kettlebell swings can lead to serious injury if executed improperly, which is why you need to find a qualified instructor.
Safety is of the Utmost Importance
While it’s acceptable to let your children try kettlebell training, you have to be extra vigilant to ensure that this is done safely. The best way to prevent injuries and reap the best results is to seek professional help. Even parents who have experience with weight training should defer to a trained coach, unless the parents themselves are trained kettlebell instructors.
Parents should look for coaches who are certified kettlebell instructors through StrongFirst. This will ensure that your coaches are both mentally and physically fit to train people with kettlebells. The StrongFirst SFG is the gold standard of kettlebell certifications and these instructors have undergone a strict training regimen with extremely high standards. This training requires a three-day course with a set of physical qualifications. Instructor candidates are also tested for their ability to guide others and how to spot, and correct, improper technique.
Children need a large amount of guidance before starting kettlebell training, precisely because the threat of injury looms quite large. Proper training under a certified coach is the best way for your child to start training safely.
Mental Health Benefits
The mental health benefits to kettlebell training are equally as important. A study in the JAMA Psychiatry journal links strength training to lower bouts of depressive symptoms. Strength training leads not only to better cardiovascular health, but also boosted brain functions. New blood vessels can form through strength training, for example, which increases oxygen flow to the brain.
There are also plenty of personal testimonies to the positive effect that exercise has on mental health. Click here to read our blog post on Combating Anxiety and Depression with Exercise.
The sooner your kids can appreciate how exercise and strength training makes them fitter and healthier, the easier it will be for them to develop a lifelong habit of exercise. Goal-setting is easily transferred onto kettlebell training, as your kids can aim to lift heavier or do more repetitions. This makes training more engaging and can keep them coming back for more.
It’s also important for your kids to see themselves as strong, capable individuals. This is especially true for young girls, who should learn early on that they’re just as strong (perhaps even stronger) than boys. Kettlebell and strength training teach your kids how each body part moves in concert.
Our ‘Independence Through Strength’ post proves that the benefits of strength training go well into our old age. Kettlebells are an engaging way to get your kids started on strength training or to supplement their current sport activities. The important thing is to stay safe, because a fun workout comes from proper form!
PS – if you’re a local, and interested in training for your child, check out our Youth Fitness Program for schedule and availability.-Dan Cenidoza