A new pilot study at the University of Newcastle is investigating how different types of supervised resistance training affect young adolescents physically and psychologically.
Dr David Lubans from the Faculty of Education and Arts and Associate Professor Robin Callister from the Faculty of Health are working with students from St Pius X High School at Adamstown.They are comparing traditional resistance training using free weights with training using an elastic tubing resistance training tool known as the Gymstick.
"We know that physical activity declines and dietary behaviours deteriorate during adolescence, with around one quarter of Australian youth now considered overweight or obese," Dr Lubans said.
"Resistance training is an effective way to increase muscular strength, reduce body fat and improve physiological health.
"Historically, resistance training has not been recommended for children and adolescents. While the long-term effects of resistance training with adolescents are still being explored, supervised resistance programs don't appear to have any adverse effects."
The pilot study is using two cohorts of students at St Pius - one using free weights and one using the Gymstick. Each cohort is completing an eight-week supervised training program twice a week during school hours.
"We want to know the physical effects of each training program on the students' fitness, how the two training programs compare, and how resistance training impacts on the students' own perceptions of their physical activity."
Dr Lubans said with adolescent obesity now a global concern, schools had an important role to play in the promotion of physical activity.
"However, few schools are equipped for resistance training because of the associated costs and perceived risks of injury," he said.
"The results from this pilot study may help to determine the effectiveness of this kind of resistance training in adolescents and provide schools with an alternative to expensive gyms and free weights."
Dr Lubans' and Associate Professor Callister's research is conducted in collaboration with the Hunter Medical Research Institute's (HMRI) Cardiovascular Research Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.
Picture opportunity: Dr Lubans and John Prior from St Pius X High School at Adamstown will be working with Year 10 students tomorrow, Thursday 28 August, at 1pm. Dr Lubans is available for interviews on Thursday before 10am, and between midday and 3pm.
Where: St Pius X High School, Park Avenue, Adamstown.