Press release

Strength-based exercises could be beneficial at an early age

Published on 10 June 2019

Encouraging children to do strength-based exercises could play a vital role in their physical development, a study suggests.

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Strength training – such as squats, leg press and deadlifts – is an essential part of fundamental movement skill development, researchers say.

The exercises enhance muscle strength at a young age and prepare children for being physical active throughout their life.

Experts warn that children who do not enhance their muscular strength and fundamental movement skills (FMS) early in life may not be able to participate in a variety of activities and sports as they get older.

Helen Collins, a Sport and Exercise Scientist from Institute of Sport and Exercise at the University of Dundee and a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, said, “The finding that resistance training has a positive impact on FMS suggests that children could improve how well they can move by taking part in this mode of exercise. This could ultimately have an effect on physical activity levels, which is crucial for sustaining and promoting good health in childhood and later life.”

The study is the first review on this topic to include non-sporting participants and provides evidence that isolated resistance training has a positive effect on the fundamental movement skills of sprinting, jumping and throwing.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh analysed 33 data sets from existing research that examined the effects of resistance training on FMS in 542 young people from 11 countries: Canada, USA, Tunisia, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, UK, Brazil, Norway and Portugal. The age of participants ranged from 8 to 18 years.

Globally, physical activity levels are declining with age. This is despite current guidelines for children aged 5 –18 that recommend at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day and taking part in activities that strengthen muscle and bone at least three days a week.

These levels of physical activity contribute to the development of healthy bones, muscles and joints and a healthy cardiovascular system, experts say.

They also facilitate maintenance of healthy body weight, provide psychological benefits and reduce the risk of several diseases.


Press Office, University of Dundee
Story category Public interest, Research