Before the adolescent growth spurt, the strength of boys and girls is about the same. But afterward, males most often have the advantage.
During these years of rapid physical growth, adolescents may be somewhat awkward or clumsy as they get used to longer limbs and bigger bodies. Their brains need time to adjust to the growing body.
Strength can be increased further in both boys and girls by participation in sports and exercise programs. A large and growing number of kids do not participate in the recommended amount of physical activity. Many children become less active as they enter middle and high school and as organized sport activities become more competitive.
Sometimes you'll need to urge your child to get off the couch and exercise. You can help motivate your child by your example—when you get regular exercise yourself. Also, talk with your child about the physical benefits of exercise, such as improving mood or energy level.
Although competitive sports are a great way for children to be physically active while they learn valuable social skills, be aware that sports are not for everyone. Focus on things that your child enjoys doing, whether it's competitive or noncompetitive sports or personal fitness activities (such as jogging, yoga, or cycling). Some children may prefer individual sports (such as karate, gymnastics, and swimming) over group sports (such as soccer or baseball). Even household chores count as physical activity.1
Help your child avoid competition that stresses winning over everything else, including sportsmanship and schoolwork.
The growing bones of children can't handle as much stress as the mature bones of adults. Children who compete in sports may be more likely to get injured, such as smaller children who play football or children who diet to maintain their weight for gymnastics or wrestling. Experts recommend limiting one sport to a maximum of 5 days a week, with at least 1 day off from any organized physical activity. Also, athletes should have at least 2 to 3 months a year off from their particular sport.2
- Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, Council on School Health (2006). Active healthy living: Prevention of childhood obesity through increased physical activity. Pediatrics, 117(5): 1834–1842.
- Brenner JS, Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness (2007). Overuse injuries, overtraining, and burnout in child and adolescent athletes. American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report. Pediatrics, 119(6): 1242–1245.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics|
|Last Revised||June 8, 2010|
Last Revised: April 8, 2012
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