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Weightlifting Is Safe for the Under-15 Set

February 26, 2001

Stephanie Oakes is quite behind the times and current research ("Coaching Anchors Teen Weight Training," Feb. 19). According to a 1999 study by the University of Massachusetts and the YMCA published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, not only can 15-year-olds safely and beneficially avail weight training, children as young as 5 can do so. The authors concluded: "Beginning a resistance training program for children not only allows for positive changes in muscular performance, but provides an opportunity for each child to experience success and feel good about his/her performance." The old saw that youngsters developing growth plates and joints are jeopardized by a well-conceived, well-supervised and well-executed weight training program is debunked by this research.

In Oakes' defense, she's not alone in her ignorance. On the American Academy of Pediatrics' Web site is their own recommendation that youngsters not undertake training until they've reached a Tanner Stage 5 level of physical maturity (at about 15 years of age). That recommendation is put forth by the Academy's Committee on Sports Medicine, written in 1990.

--BILL HOFFINE

San Diego

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