I grew up in a time where the internet was growing, but it was far from what it is today. My first cell phone was in grade 7 and I had it for all of one year. I wouldn’t get another one until late in high-school when I got a part time job and picked up a Motorola Razor on a ‘pay as you go’ plan.
I also started working out when I was in grade 9 and I had to convince my parents to let me do it. Honestly I don’t remember how the conversations went but I remember it was difficult. It was a lot of back and forth but eventually there was a final statement that I believe got my parents to be at least sort of on board, which was all I needed.
I wanted to play sports, but wasn’t sure which sport I wanted to be my ‘main sport’. So naturally if I workout to become stronger, i’ll be better at any sport I chose.
So with that aside, here are a few reasons why 13 is not too young to start working out. This is not an exhaustive list, so if you have any others leave it in the comments!
Sport = Exercise
If you take a step back and analyze sport, it replicates a lot of exercises. Running is like lunging, flip turns in swimming is an overhead squat, volleyball is plyometrics, baseball is arm strengthening, etc. So the question is not ‘will exercise hurt my sport performance’ but ‘which exercises can compliment the ones i’m already doing’.
Quick note from a mobility perspective; after high level activity you typically lose small amounts of range of motion 24–48 hours afterwards, so what are you doing to counteract the loss in range of motion?
Every Day Life = Exercise
Building on the above point, what does carrying the groceries look like? Google ‘farmers carry’ and get back to me. Jumping on/off the couch ‘horsing around’ often looks like squats and lunges. I think you’re getting the idea. Working out gives the opportunity for you to challenge similar qualities/movements in a more controlled and safe enviornment. You’re likely already ‘working out’ just not consciously labelling it.
Ability To Recovery = Super Impressive
Let’s compare a sedentary 13 year old vs a sedentary 33 year old. Which of them do you think will have worse quality tissue? (ex. muscles, tendons, ligaments, capsular space, etc.) Poor quality tissue = poor quality movement = higher chance of improper movement patterns = higher chance of injury. I do agree there are exceptions to the rule, but the youth are so resilient buggers! They can typically bounce back faster than people their senior. As long as the dose is appropriate, you’re taking less risk starting to exercise at a younger age. When you’re younger, you’re closer to a ‘blank slate’ so to speak.
4. CSEP Guidelines
Wherever you live, search for local governing organisations and look at their exercise recommendations for different age ranges. They shouldn’t dictate your entire opinion, but they should be acknowledged. Googles description of CSEP is and here is what their guidlines are for children and youth age 5–17:
“The Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) designation was established in 1993 to recognize event professionals who have successfully demonstrated the knowledge, skills and ability essential to perform all components of a special event.”