The treatment for adolescent obesity and associated health problems has focused mostly on diet modifications and aerobic exercise such as walking or swimming.
But a recent research study concludes that adding strength-building exercises will help adolescents reduce the risks of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and other health problems.
The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, show that strength capacity is strongly associated with lower cardiometabolic risk in adolescents, even after controlling for the influence of BMI, physical activity participation and cardiorespiratory fitness.
The outcome contradicts a popular belief that only high BMI, low cardiorespiratory fitness and excessive sedentary behaviours are the primary drivers of cardiometabolic abnormalities, according to researcher Paul M. Gordon.
“Our study bolsters support for early strength acquisition and strategies to maintain healthy BMIs (body-mass index measurements) and body compositions among children and adolescents,” Gordon said. “Unfortunately to date, most clinical reports have focused on the safety or efficacy of strength training in pediatrics, rather than its potential viability for health outcomes.”
Data gathered from over 1,400 boys and girls, ages 10-12 showed that boys and girls with greater strength-to-body mass ratios had lower BMIs, lower percent body fat, smaller waist circumferences, higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness and significantly lower clinical markers of risk.