A study from Sweden suggests that the best time for future athletes to start training is probably before they go into puberty, because strength training before puberty gives a person larger and stronger bones. The study also shows that the best way to prevent osteoporosis may be to start exercising against resistance before puberty and continue weight-bearing exercise for the rest of your life.
Having large strong muscles makes you a better athlete, and muscle growth is limited by the size of the bones on which they attach. Training before puberty enlarges bones more effectively than at any other time in a person's life. Children who start to play tennis before they go into puberty have larger bones in the arm that holds the racquet. The larger the bone, the stronger the muscle. The larger and stronger your muscles, the harder you can hit a ball. Lifting weights during growth does not prevent children from growing to their full potential heights, and children who lift weights with good supervision do not suffer more injuries than adults.
The study from Malmo, Sweden suggests that exercising while the bones are still growing may help to prevent osteoporosis. All women and most men will develop osteoporosis if they live long enough. A woman has the most and strongest bone when she is 20, and from then on, she will continue to lose bone every year of her life. When she stops menstruating permanently at the average age of 52, the rate that she loses bone increases to 3 to 5 times for several years. Men have the most bone when they are age 30, and after that it's downhill for them also. You have to exercise against resistance to make bones stronger. This study suggests that to avoid osteoporosis, people should start lifting weights before puberty and continue to weight lifting or other exercise against resistance for the rest of their lives.
Is exercise of value in the prevention of fragility fractures in men? Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 2002, Vol 12, Iss 4, pp 197-210. M Karlsson. Karlsson M, Malmo Univ Hosp, Dept Orthopaed, SE-20502 Malmo, SWEDEN
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