Posted by Dr. Matt Hand on Mar 27, 2023 1:00:00 PM
Teens are encouraged to get at least an hour of physical exercise daily, but high school gym class is only keeping them active for an average of 16 minutes. Many teens are hitting the gym to close that gap, and research supports their ability to lift weights and benefit from muscle recovery supplements.*
In the perpetual push and pull between sedentary rest and frenetic activity, teens are expected to strike the perfect balance in their workout routine. They can engage in weight lifting and high-intensity training if they observe rest days. They can even take certain dietary supplements to aid in muscle support and overall performance.*
Around the world and throughout history, each culture has developed a lifestyle meant to embrace this need for balance as true wellness. While it is important to engage in some motion, action, and high-intensity (yang), it’s just as necessary to enjoy ample rest, stillness, and quiet (yin).
American teens are at a disadvantage in attaining true wellness, finding themselves in the midst of a high-stress, high-expectation society often described as a “pressure cooker.”
With positive modeling on wellness concepts, exercise routines, and safe supplementing, teens can learn to develop a positive body image, a healthy relationship with real foods, and realistic long-term fitness goals for life.
Perfectly demonstrating the imbalance of modern society, American teens are often getting either far too little exercise or far too much exercise. The CDC says teens should do “60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.”
Regular exercise is shown to promote stronger muscles and bones in teens, as well as a healthy body fat to weight ratio, improved cognition, and stable moods. Ideally, the one hour of daily exercise is comprised of a variety of cardio and strength training activities that are challenging yet enjoyable.
While most of the focus seems to be on getting teens to exercise more, there are also concerns about those who are exercising too much. As social media floods their smartphone feeds with filtered images and unrealistic diet and exercise regimens, teens can be easily swayed in the direction of obsessive workouts or extreme diets.
Impressionable young people can see influencers promoting certain supplements or equipment and believe that they, too, can easily look like that if only they buy the product or service offered. Young men are encouraged to “bulk up,” while young women are often encouraged to “slim down,” and many will sacrifice true health and wellness in their attempts.
Although research is much more limited in teens than in adult populations, there are some dietary supplements that are generally considered safe in teens, if used correctly in moderation. Here is our top ten list of safe muscle support supplements for teens*:
With their still-developing bodies and minds, teenagers have unique nutritional needs. Being an athlete or having a workout routine adds additional layers of concerns. Be sure to discuss with your teen’s pediatrician or sports nutritionist any supplement regimens before starting.
Here are a few common options that we do not recommend for use in teens:
Many supplements in the fitness industry may tout safety and efficacy, but the bottom line is that research is largely lacking in adolescent populations. Most labels will have a “do not use if under 18” clause, often to protect the company and the teen from unknown dangers.
With seemingly unlimited access to ordering supplements online and watching workout hacks online, teens can easily fall victim to unhealthy trends.
More is not always better when it comes to exercise and supplementation. Taking an excessive amount of protein powder might just be useless, but synthetic testosterone can be downright dangerous. Here are some signs that your teen could be overdoing it and potentially affecting their health:
In our fast-paced modern world, teens are as susceptible to stress as adults are. Their developing bodies are in need of exercise, in moderation, and can be supported with some targeted high-quality recovery supplements.*
Starting with a healthy diet, rich in whole foods like organic, grass-fed meat and a colorful variety of vegetables, is the foundation for a healthy body and mind. When physical exercise creates higher needs, certain supplements can help fill the gaps and aid normal muscle repair while supporting the immune and cardiovascular systems.*
Remember that more isn’t always better. Just because you could boost testosterone doesn’t mean you should. Similarly, a thinner body doesn’t always equate to a healthier person. Finding the balance between the active, yang, elements of life and the restful, yin, components takes time for teens to figure out. Having positive adult role models to influence their exercise, food, and supplementation choices is key.
As with all fitness plans, be sure to discuss any questions or new regimens with your—or your teen’s—integrative doctor. Follow the basic strategies for health and wellness, no matter how old you are. Stay active, get restorative sleep, hydrate, manage stress, and eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods.
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