My son, who is now 17 years old, has always been into fitness and exercise. As a young child he would rather have gone out to play football with his friends than stay inside. He’s doing a lot more exercise now that he’s doing on-line learning at home and with the added pressures of being in lock-down, he finds it more beneficial.
I asked him some questions about good exercises, that he recommends as a young person, and the do’s and dont’s of weightlifting.
Have you always enjoyed exercise?
I always enjoyed sport at school, and my love for it began quite early on in primary key stage 1. I enjoyed football, basketball, athletics and sports days. I was in the tag rugby team at school, and I have always enjoyed going out with friends on bike rides, basketball at local parks and playing footy with my mates for fun. I never wanted to join a team and take it too seriously though. I just enjoyed playing different sports because it was a great thing to do with my friends.
Imagine I’m a 13 year old boy who wants to lift weights. Is this too young an age?
Well through talking to PE teachers and others, they always advise you to only start proper weight training when you have stopped growing. Say from the age of 18 onward, because your bones are still growing and you do not want to create ‘bulk’ when you are too young. It’s always best to go and see your doctor and ask them what’s the best time for you, because we are all different. But definitely, not before the age of 16, and only then, light weights to begin with. I have started to use light weights, but my main forms of exercise are body weight exercises.
What are the best exercises to do before it’s safe to begin lifting weights?
I generally do a work out 3 or 4 times a week. So I begin with warm up exercises. I will then do push ups, sit ups, squats, lunges, the plank and a variety of stuff like going for a jog, skipping and if you can, plenty of team sports. At the moment this isn’t possible, so I usually do the rest at home.
Resistance band workouts are good and they are quite cheap to buy with some good videos on YouTube to watch showing you how to use them. Walking is good too, but you have to walk quite long distances and get your heart beating, so you are fat burning. Cardio and body weight training is good for fat burning.
Why is exercise important to you at this time?
I get really bored being stuck at home for a lot of the time. I do have my college on-line learning etc, but other than that, because I can’t see my friends it gets a bit depressing. I think it’s important for me because it gives me a focus, motivates me to get moving more and it definitely makes me feel good about myself. It seems to change my mindset, and somehow makes me feel more positive. If I do a work-out at home for half an hour, I really feel more energised afterwards, even though at the start it’s hard to push myself to do it.
How about your eating?
I do love takeaways and eating biscuits and chocolates etc. I would say that I eat fairly well though. I’ve always preferred eating fruit to sweets. I always eat porridge for breakfast, and try and eat well throughout the day. I do like my treats though.
So you would recommend exercise for young people in lock-down?
Yes, definitely. You will probably be missing out so much with PE at school and college, you will need things to make you feel good in your life, and for me , exercise does that. It makes you feel great having a work out and I think it’s good for your mental health.
It has been noted by health professionals that exercise is good for a person’s mental health, and it releases feel-good hormones into the body, so surely this will be good for young people. We all struggle with the times we are living in at the moment, so anything that makes us feel better is surely a good thing.
Here’s a link explaining what exercises are good for young people https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/strength-training.html