Home » 5 to 7 » Fighting Obesity in Children and Teens: Resistance Training May Help More Than Aerobic Exercise, Experts Say

Fighting Obesity in Children and Teens: Resistance Training May Help More Than Aerobic Exercise, Experts Say

Experts identify a number of disadvantage of low-intensity, long-duration aerobic training for obese youth


Given the growing prevalence of youth who are overweight and obese and the associated health-related concerns, the influence of resistance training on the metabolic health, body composition and injury risk profile of children and adolescents with excess body fat has received increased attention.

Young girl doing resistance training

Low intensity, long-duration aerobic exercise is typically prescribed for youth who are overweight or obese, but has a number of drawbacks compared to resistance training, says an international consensus of experts in a new position statement published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (Loyd RS, et al 2014):

  • excess body fat and weight may hinder the performance of physical activities such as jogging.
  • Adolescents who are overweight and obese are more than twice as likely to be injured in sports and other physical activities compared with their peers who are not overweight or obese, typically due to a reduced ability to demonstrate and maintain postural stability.
  • Youth deemed to be overweight and obese seem to demonstrate significantly lower motor coordination than normal weight youth, which is of concern due to the established relationship between motor coordination and levels of physical activity. 
"While the treatment of youth who are overweight and obese is complex, participation in a formalized training programme that is inclusive of resistance training may provide an opportunity to improve their muscle strength, enhance motor coordination and gain confidence in their per- ceived abilities to be physically active," the statement says

"The available evidence indicates that resistance training has the potential to offer observable health value to sedentary youth and young athletes, and such training should always be designed by qualified professionals to meet the needs of all children and adolescents, regardless of body size or physical ability," the international panel concludes.

Loyd RS, Faigenbaum AD, Stone MH, et al. Position statement on youth resistance training: the 2014 International Consensus. Br J Sports Med 2014;48:498-505. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2013-092952