The findings of this review highlight the importance of developing MF in youth for a number of health-related benefits.
Muscle is metabolic currency. This soon to be famous quote from Carl Lanore has been proven in the science continuously. As highlighted in this review, children exhibit a gradual linear increase in muscular strength and muscular power from 3 years of age until puberty, and these changes are closely associated with changes in body size and fundamental movement skill aptitude. After this time, boys show a dramatic acceleration of muscular strength until the age of 17 and beyond, and girls show a pronounced plateauing and regression in late adolescence and beyond. Not surprisingly, a stronger and more powerful musculoskeletal system will enable children and adolescents to perform bodily movements more efficiently and effectively.
Despite the above, much of the focus on youth health has been centered on cardiorespiratory fitness, and the purpose of this review is to examine the relationship between musculoskeletal fitness and the range of health benefits in youth. No doubt cardiorespiratory fitness is an important factor in health, but muscular fitness has been directly linked to all-cause mortality, reduced adiposity, increased insulin sensitivity, bone health, and psychological health and academic performance. Many of these benefits are independent of cardiorespiratory fitness to boot.
Based on the 110 studies included in the meta-analysis, there is strong evidence for a positive association between musculoskeletal fitness and bone health and self-esteem, although the associations are low to moderate, and there is strong evidence of an inverse association between musculoskeletal fitness and total and central adiposity, and cardiovascular disease and metabolic risk factors, although the associations are also low to moderate. Youth is the time to set the stage for the rest of your life. It is when the foundation is laid. How strong is your foundation? Muscle = metabolic currency. For those of you working with children, they can improve strength by 30% to 50% after just 8 to 12 weeks of a well-designed strength training program, and need to continue to train at least 2 times per week to maintain strength.