Question: Rocco, my wife and I are former college athletes and in the mid 90s I rode the pine for several uneventful seasons in the Continental Basketball Association. We both continue to stay in good shape, mainly jogging, biking and lifting. Our two kids are 7 and 9 and they want to be like mom and dad and exercise with us. Im aware of the obesity epidemic affecting children, but how young is too young for them to start exercising and at what level or intensity? And don't get me wrong, I'd much rather my kids become doctors or lawyers than professional athletes; it really took its toll on me.
Answer: I love these crazy myths that over the years have perpetuated into fact, even doctors believe them. Read this very carefully children can exercise at any age, especially running, jumping jacks, climbing ropes, fences or trees. There has been a myth perpetrated on Americans from doctors for more than 30 years stating that young children should not lift weights or it will stunt their growth. This is absolutely false and anyone who says this should be punched in the teeth. The truth is impactful weight training such as squats, cleans, heavy bench pressing and Plyometric exercises can cause damage to the growth plates if and only if the training leads to injury to the growth plates. I recommend all parents do basic exercises with their children. Here are some suggestions: Body weight squats, jumping jacks, pushups or negative pushups (go to www.askrocco.com to view demonstration) mountain climbers, reach for the sky or arm circles. All of these exercises will develop strength in your childrens joints and prevent them from getting injured and give you and them something to do together. Good luck. I wish more parents gave a S**T about their childrens health. And yes, I do think that most parents who let their kids get fat are either stupid or dont care that their children will have a hard time in life both mentally and physically if theyre allowed to get fat. Parents, its up to you to keep your children from dying young.