Part-1 of the blog mini-series on youth
By Dr Nicky Keay
Young people need information in order to make life decisions on their health, fitness and sport training with the support of their families, teachers and coaches.
As discussed in my previous blog anima sana in corpore sano, exercise has a positive effect on all aspects of health: physical, mental and social. The beneficial impact of exercise is particularly important during adolescence where bodies and minds are changing. This time period presents a window of opportunity for young people to optimise health and fitness, both in the short term and long term.
The physical benefits of exercise for young people include development of peak bone mass, body composition and enhanced cardio-metabolic health. Exercise in young people has also been shown to support cognitive ability and psychological wellbeing.
Optimising health and all aspects of fitness in young athletes is especially important in order to train and compete successfully. During this phase of growth and development, any imbalances in training, combined with changes in proportions and unfused growth plates can render young athletes more susceptible to overuse injuries. A training strategy for injury prevention in this age group includes development of neuromuscular skills when neuroplasticity is available. Pilates is an excellent form of exercise to support sport performance.
In athletes where low body weight is an advantage for aesthetic reasons or where this confers a competitive advantage, this can lead to relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S). Previously known as the female athlete triad, this was renamed as male athletes can also be effected. The consequences of this relative energy deficiency state are negative effects on metabolic rate, menstrual function, bone health, protein synthesis and immunity. If this situation arises in young athletes, then this is of concern for current health and may have consequences for health moving into adulthood.
A well informed young person can make decisions to optimise health, fitness and sports performance.
Optimal Health: Especially Young Athletes! Part 3 – Consequences of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports Dr N. Keay, British Association Sport and Exercise Medicine 13/4/17