Dear Kirk,

My 13-year-old son lifts weights in his physical education classes at school. I have always heard that boys should not lift until they hit puberty. Is it safe for him to continue? - Jim in Phoenixville.

Dear Jim,

It is perfectly safe for boys and girls to lift weights at this age. Many even start lifting before their teenage years. However, you need to make sure that the lifting program he is involved in is designed for kids his age. At the YMCA I run a class where kids 12-16 years of age learn weight room safety and proper lifting techniques for a variety of weight lifting exercises. I make sure that the kids are supervised at all times and they understand that the most important aspect of their workouts is perfect form and technique. The kids lift with light weight and high repetitions so that the chance of injury is lessened even further.

The perception that weight lifting is dangerous is false. Most people teach themselves how to lift weights. They get injured when they use improper form and try to lift weights that are too heavy. Weight lifting is one of the safest sports or activities kids and adults can get involved in. In fact, if more kids were involved in a regular weight lifting program they would decrease the risk of injury in other sports such as soccer, basketball and football.

Dear Kirk,

How does eating more often promote weight loss? - Ellen in Spring City.

Dear Ellen,

It takes a lot of energy to digest food. If you eat 5-6 small meals every 3-4 hours throughout the day your metabolic rate will be more stable than if you eat 2-3 large meals. You have to make sure you are not eating more calories than you burn in a day or you will gain weight. Do not decrease the total number of calories too quickly; otherwise your body will think it is starving and store calories - which means excess body fat.

Fit-Quest is designed to answer all your fitness questions. Whether you're a workout pro, or haven't even started, our fitness expert, Kirk Lombard, Physical Director at the Phoenixville Area YMCA, can help. An exercise and sports science graduate of Penn State University, Kirk brings more than seven years of experience to Fit-Quest readers. If you have an exercise question you'd like addressed in Fit-Quest, email it to fitquest@paymca.org. And remember: NEVER START ANY NEW EXERCISE PROGRAM WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING YOUR PHYSICIAN.

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