Before the adolescent
growth spurt, the strength of boys and girls is about
the same. But afterward, males most often have the advantage.
During these years of rapid physical growth, adolescents may be somewhat
awkward or clumsy as they get used to longer limbs and bigger bodies. Their
brains need time to adjust to the growing body.
Strength can be
increased further in both boys and girls by participation in sports and
exercise programs. A large and growing number of kids do not participate in the
recommended amount of physical activity. Many children become less active as
they enter middle and high school and as organized sport activities become more
Sometimes you'll need to urge your child to get off
the couch and exercise. You can help motivate your child by your example—when
you get regular exercise yourself. Also, talk with your child about the
physical benefits of exercise, such as improving mood or energy level.
Although sports are a great way for children to be physically
active while they learn valuable social skills, be aware that sports are not
for everyone. Focus on things that your child enjoys doing, whether it's
competitive or noncompetitive sports or personal fitness activities (such as
jogging, yoga, or cycling). Some children may prefer individual sports (such as
karate, gymnastics, and swimming) over group sports (such as soccer or
The growing bones of children can't handle as much stress as the mature
bones of adults. Children who compete in sports may be more likely to get
injured, such as smaller children who play football or children who diet to
maintain their weight for gymnastics or wrestling.