Myths about exercise among teens

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A good time to start exercising: Early in your life. If you are a teenager, you can ensure fitness in the long run with some form of exercise — a sport, gymming, walking, or even running your dog. Select something you can build into your lifestyle and enjoy on a daily basis.

 

If you are overweight, or have a tendency to put on weight, it makes sense to correct the problem rightaway. The good news is, at your age you have a high-burn metabolism that will give you quick weight-loss results. However, if you neglect your body now, you could face obesity and other medical issues later.

 

There are some fitness-related questions and misconceptions most teenagers have. Here are some myths that you need to get over.

 

Exercise can make me taller

Your height depends on how tall your parents are and your posture. The period of rapid body growth starts at 11 years in girls and around 13 years in boys. For girls, the growth spurt happens between 12 and 16 years, with an average growth of about 3.5 inches per year. It tapers off at around 16. Boys experience their growth spurt between 14 and 18. The average growth during this period is approximately four inches every year. By age 18, most boys reach their adult height.

 

While you can’t do much about the first variable, you can certainly work towards exercises that help you stand tall. When you stand straight, with your back erect, you appear taller.

 

Strength training stunts growth

It doesn’t. Don’t let the fear stop you from being active. Pull-ups, pushups, squats and ab crunches help tone up and shape your figure. Needless to say, any form of exercise, including strength exercises can have negative consequences if performed incorrectly.

 

An accident can damage your growth plates which are located at each end of a bone where growth occurs (growing bones fuse around 18 years of age). Injury to the growth plate can create a risk to developing bones. Be sure to work with a certified coach, who can show you how to exercise with correct form and technique without injuring yourself. Maintaining safeguards minimises the risk of injury. Adolescents should avoid lifting heavy weights.

 

Power lifting and body building are also best avoided until you turn 16, at least.

 

I can bulk up easily

Strength training exercises will help you get very toned and fit. But don’t attempt to get too big or bulky, as power lifting requires physical and skeletal maturity, which only comes with adulthood.

 

For overall fitness you need to build stamina, strength, suppleness and stability. If you are a running enthusiast, run to build your stamina, run uphill to strengthen the leg muscles, improve suppleness by performing stretches after running. Stability can be achieved by trying to balance by running on an uneven nature trail.

 

Push-ups, ab crunches or pull-ups are safer than machines or free weights

Not really, as your body does not know the difference between machines, free weights (dumbbells) and its own resistance. However, it is always safer to start with easier strength exercises on machines or free weights and master the correct technique.

Supplements are essential

There is a lot of hype built around protein supplements. Everyone thinks of them as some kind of wonder food that buffs up your body to superhuman proportions. Sorry to disappoint you, but this is simply not the case. Consuming protein in excess will only cause it to metabolise into fat and get stored in your body.

 

To ensure your exercise programme is safe and effective, here are some tips to follow.

 

– Too much, too fast, too soon are the main causes of injury.

– Water lost due to perspiration and sweating needs to be replaced.

– Drink plenty of water before, after and during an exercise routine to prevent dehydration.

– Muscles need at least 48 hours of rest between workout sessions, especially while weight training.

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