Given the current childhood obesity epidemic, there is so much emphasis on keeping kids at a healthy weight, but do we think enough about helping them to become and remain physically strong?
As a child, I remember a family friend who used to have her kids walk up the stairs to bed each night wheelbarrow style (on their hands). At the time I thought that was borderline abuse! Now I’m not so sure. Strength is important to us as adults, why not our kids?
The National Strength and Conditioning Association affirms the potential value of resistance training, stating “Acceptance of youth resistance training by medical, fitness, and sport organizations is becoming universal.” They go on to discuss a whole range of benefits in addition to strength building; the proper use of weights can promote balance, help accelerate metabolism and foster bone health. Who knew?
New York City-based kids’ fitness expert Steve Ettinger is passionate about promoting physical health and overall well-being for youngsters. Steve comments, “As long as there’s supervision and understanding of correct form, resistance training can be a really positive addition to workout programs for kids.”
Isabella Yosuico also knows the importance of strength. Her first son, Pierce is a typically-developing, ‘all-boy’ and very active jock. But her second son, Isaac, was born with Down syndrome. Most children with Down syndrome also have hypotonia, or low muscle tone. When Isabella found out from Isaac’s physical therapist that he suffered from hypotonia, she immediately understood the implications.
“When a child is physically weak, they can’t move and explore freely, which really limits their interaction with the world,” Isabella explains. “All areas of development are in turn affected.”
After that physical therapy session, Isabella went to work. She grabbed some fleece and sand from the sandbox and created her own prototype wrist/ankle weights, made especially for young Isaac. When Isaac’s physical therapist saw what she had done, she encouraged her to pursue the idea.
After professional input and refinement, Isabella brought the product to market and now sells her weights to parents, hospitals and therapy centers. Through informal trials at leading hospitals, she found that the weights may help many different children- including typically-developing kids- not just those with Down syndrome.
Isabella designed the weights low-profile and lighter in weight with cheerful, yet durable waterproof fabric so they could be worn during playtime together, inside and out.
Today, the weights are being trialled by a major youth fitness chain in Manhattan to support general fitness.
Keeping kids at a healthy weight is important, yes. But let’s not forget the importance of quality movement and helping all children become as strong as they can be.
By Aimee Taylor