HomeHealth articlesphysical fitness in childrenHow to Increase Physical Fitness in Children?

The organized physical activity and controlled strength training program increase the child's physical fitness. Read the article below to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Shakti Mishra

Published At May 11, 2023
Reviewed AtMay 11, 2023


Physical fitness is attained through proper nutrition, a strength training program that uses resistance from the body, weight machines, and exercise to strengthen muscle activity. Although some children are not healthy enough to perform these activities, some modifications are included based on the child's health.

What Is Physical Fitness Among Children?

Physical fitness is the state of being healthy with regulated cardiac, respiratory, and muscular activity of children to enable them to perform daily activities energetically (school work, home responsibilities, sports, and other leisure activities). Additionally, it improves coordination among peer groups, balance, posture, and flexibility and helps children to stay healthy by reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, and type-2 diabetes later in life. Physical fitness is determined by genetic factors and the level of regular exercise or physical activity. Comparatively, physical activities have decreased recently, which is likely to influence abnormal body composition (obesity) and cardiorespiratory illness.

What Is a Strength Training Program?

A strength training program is a physical activity designed to improve the strength and endurance of muscle, tendon, ligament, and bone density. It is often associated with body weight, weight lifting, kettlebells, resistance bands, and polymetric (jumping exercise) exercises.

It is also known as resistance training, which enhances the quality of life and improves daily activities. Strength training can also protect joints from injury. Building up muscles contributes to better balance and reduces fall risk. Moreover, the training improves the concentration and sports performance of the child.

What Is the Difference Between Exercise and Strength Training Programs?

Exercise and strength training is the kind of physical activity that helps to improve or maintain the physical fitness of an individual. In contrast, the training program applies resistance against body movement and is also known as resistance training. Resistance training tools are bodyweight exercises, weight machines, elastic cords, tubing, or other devices. Studies show that increased physical activity levels during childhood reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease), diabetes, cancer, and musculoskeletal disorder (conditions that affect muscle, tendons, and joints. Often characterized by persistent pain, restricted movement, and reduced ability to perform day to day physical activity).

Who Can Participate in a Strength Training Program Among Children?

Kids above seven or eight years are ideal candidates to participate in strength training programs. The training program selection process is based on the child's physical health, social maturity, and mental balance, followed by a physical exam conducted by a qualified medical professional.

Who Cannot Participate in the Strength Training Program?

According to AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), kids with the following underlying health conditions are not qualified to participate in the training programs:

  • Congenital heart disease (heart disease by birth).

  • High blood pressure.

  • Marfan syndrome (connective tissue disorder of the heart, eyes, blood vessels, and bones).

  • Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle infection that results in abnormal heart pumping mechanism).

  • Seizure.

  • Cancer.

  • Prior history of chemotherapy (treatment for cancer).

  • Olympic weightlifting (a sport with maximal lifts using two exercises, the snatch and the clean-and-jerk) is completely avoided in candidates with underdeveloped physical and skeletal maturity.

What Is the Guideline for Strength or Resistance Training?

There are eleven guidelines for the training program:

  • Both parents and trainers should discuss goals and expectations regarding the program before training sessions.

  • Individualized weight training is based on the child's age, maturity, and personal goal.

  • Strength training programs incorporate resistance with the help of free weights, weight machines, rubber tubing, and medicine balls.

  • Six to eight exercises are recommended for each session with a target area of the chest, shoulders, back, arms, legs, abdomen, and lower back.

  • Always Initially start with one to two sets of an exercise, with 10 to 15 repetitions in each group.

  • The resistance will be added gradually (5 to 10 percent) after completing 15 repetitions.

  • Five to ten minutes of warm-up and cool-down sessions are performed along with training to boost physical health. Warm-up results in increased blood flow to the muscles, whereas cool-down maintains the blood flow to promote recovery and flexibility of the body.

  • Complex or extensive muscle exercise is followed by simple or small muscle exercises (starting from tough and ending with easier ones).

  • Maximum weight lifting is not recommended until skeletal maturity.

  • Aerobic activity (walking, running, or other activity that makes the heart beat faster) is also part of a program to enhance cardiac health.

  • Immediate withdrawal from the strength training program results in a deterioration of strength levels, like before.

  • For effective results, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity of 60 minutes per day is recommended for three days per week.

What Is the Goal of the Strength Training Program?

There are five goals of strength training:

  • Safe and effective physical activities for children.

  • Development of fundamental motor skills.

  • Increased level of physical activity.

  • Learning social skills (teamwork, good sportsmanship).

  • Fun-filled event.

What Is the Exercise That Strengthens the Body?

Some basic exercises that enhance physical fitness are

  • Bench Step-Ups: Stepping up and down the right and left foot strengthens the entire leg and glute muscles.

  • Calf Raises: Standing on the toes and holding the position strengthens calf muscles.

  • Crab Walks: Sit with the knee by placing the palm towards the ground to start walking in both forward and backward directions. Improves the physical strength of arm and leg muscles.

  • Hip Bridges: Lifting the hips while lying down on the back strengthens the lower back and leg muscles.

  • Planks: Strengthens overall body.

  • Push-Ups: Strengthens chest and arm.

  • Side Planks: Strengthens core and back.

  • Straight-Arm Planks With Arm Row: Strengthens chest and shoulder muscles.

  • Squat Jumps: Strengthens upper leg muscle and glutes.

What Are the Benefits of Strength Training?

The overall benefits of strength training are:

  • Improvising academics (attention and memory) and sports performance like the long jump, vertical jump, and squat jump.

  • Improved motor skills.

  • Psychosocial behavior.

  • Aerobic fitness.

  • Maintain good sleeping patterns.

  • Muscular strength and flexibility.

  • Promotes cardiac and respiratory health.

  • Enhance bone mineral density.

  • Burns unwanted fat.

  • Reduce depression and anxiety (fear).

  • Decrease the risk of injury in athletes.

  • Decrease the risk of developing cardiac (heart) diseases and diabetics.

  • Prehabilitation of muscle fatigue due to overuse of specific sports. (for example, swimming results in the overuse of shoulder muscles).

  • Provide health-related education (for example, proper nutrition, hydration, and substance abuse, such as anabolic steroids).

What Are the Drawbacks of Training?

The following are the drawbacks of training:

  • Risk of injury, all sports activity results in a higher risk of injury, but it can be overcome by the supervision of a qualified trainer.

  • In rare cases, epiphyseal plate fracture and soft tissue injuries may lead to trauma due to misusing equipment or techniques and improper weight lifting.

  • Anterior cruciate ligament injury (knee ligament injury) can occur, but with proper strength training and exercise, the incidence of cruciate ligament injury can be decreased.

What Are the Myths About Strength Training Programs?

Despite the strength training program being accepted by health care and fitness professionals, several misconceptions exist about its safety and benefits. For example:

  • It is unsafe and affects a child's growth.

  • It is only applicable to adults who compete in sports.


Childhood obesity can be reduced significantly through strength training programs, thereby improving the child's strength and physical health. In addition, proper monitoring and training can help decrease the risk of any injury and also improve a child’s mental health as well as bring discipline to their life.

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Dr. Naga Priyanka. N
Dr. Naga Priyanka. N


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