Purpose of review
With the advent of social media combined with several large-scale promotions by nationwide gym chains, pediatric interest in strength training has reached new heights during the past few years. While this is a healthy way for young gym users to build strength and stay active, there are significant risks associated with improper utilization of exercise resources. Lack of adult supervision and guidance in the gym can lead to physical injury, inappropriate use of supplements, and body image issues. The purpose of this review is to provide pediatricians with up-to-date information about well tolerated exercise practices for pubertal and prepubertal youth.
Current exercise trends may negatively impact both the physical and mental health of participants. Various physical injuries may occur when adolescents use gym equipment incorrectly under inadequate adult supervision. Use of unproven equipment such as waist trainers may cause bodily injury, and social media content on exercising and weight loss can negatively influence adolescent body image. Potential consequences include low self-esteem and uncommon body dysmorphic disorders, such as muscle dysmorphia. Further, the intense marketing of supplements can induce pediatric gym users to engage in inappropriate consumption behaviors. The increasing accessibility of commercial gyms to youth has increased the potential for children and adolescents to be exposed to such physical and mental health hazards.
Greater knowledge regarding strength training techniques will help pediatricians guide their patients toward well tolerated and healthy gym habits. Caregivers and medical professionals should recognize the necessity of supervision, as well as the dangers of incorrect equipment use and unsafe trends to mitigate risks and maximize benefits of pediatric gym use.