London: Cycling or evening park time is absolutely fine to see your children stay fit but encouraging them to do strength-based exercises such as squats, push ups and lunges can help them shed weight faster, reveals a most extensive review of resistance training's impact on young people.

Such resistance training, which allows muscles to contract and enables muscles and bones to strengthen, helps reduce children's body fat percentage, lowers their body mass index (BMI) as well as boosts metabolism, said researchers who examined 18 studies across eight countries including the US, Australia and Japan to reach this conclusion.

The study, published in the journal Sports Medicine, examined the effects of resistance training on body weight for the 9-18 age group.

"The results showed positive effect resistance training can have on maintaining a healthy weight and reducing body fat for young people," said Helen Collins, doctoral student at Britain's University of Edinburgh.

While resistance training decreased body fat, it had no overall effect on other measures, including lean muscle mass, body mass index and waist circumference.

"Treatment, and more importantly, prevention, of child obesity is a growing concern," Collins said. "Our findings highlight the need for more robust research into the role strength-based exercises can play in helping everyone make healthy life choices and be more physically active".

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An increase in muscle mass -- gained from strength-based exercises -- could also help boost children's metabolism and energy levels, the researchers added.

The effects were small but meaningful, prompting calls for further research to investigate how resistance training could treat and prevent the growing issue of child obesity.

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