October 5, 2022

How to help your teen get moving

5 min read

Editor’s note: Consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program. If you feel pain, stop immediately.


It’s no secret that exercise is important to your health, no matter what your age. And it’s tempting to assume that kids have no problem being active. After all, school has gym class, recess for the little ones and organized sports – lots of organized sports. But children, and especially teenagers, are less active than you might think.

Teens should get at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity each day, according to World Health Organization. Still one 2019 study The report, published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal, found that less than 20 percent of school-aged youth worldwide are doing this much activity, with girls being less active than boys. In the United States, the number is only slightly higher, with 24 percent of children ages 6 to 17 getting 60 minutes of physical activity per day. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What is behind these disappointing numbers? a lot of things. The allure of Organized sports is dying out, mainly because of its increasing costs, time commitment and often highly competitive nature. In 2018, only 38 percent of children ages 6 to 12 were playing an organized sport, down from 45 percent in 2008. Aspen Institute. The Aspen Institute wrote that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the downward trend. Its State of Play 2021 report.

Then there is technology. About half of American teenagers say they are online.Almost continuously“According to a Pew Research Center study, just over 24 percent in 2014-2015. Most school recess and outdoor sports,” said Carol Harrison, senior clinical exercise physiologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. In addition, more children walk or bike to school today than in the past.

“Many children also come into a home where both parents haven’t gotten home from work yet,” Harrison said. “The result, often, is gaming on the computer and watching TV, often accompanied by unhealthy snacks.”

Experts say this lack of mobility is concerning, and not just from a weight perspective. In addition to improving your heart, muscle, bone and metabolic health, regular exercise helps improve your coordination and agility, and the resulting increased blood flow is also good for the brain.

“Studies show that children involved in daily physical activity do better overall with focus and attention, which translates into better academic performance,” he said. “It also helps with impulse control and better emotion management.”

How do you get your teens to sweat? While this can often be a challenge, there are many ways to introduce more physical activity into children’s lives.

No one wants to get out there and start running. instead, Find activities. You can all enjoy together. It can be as simple as a family bike ride, a round of bean bag toss or a trip to the park with friends. On days off, schedule a camping trip, where a daily swim, hike or paddling session is on the agenda.

Skateboarding keeps kids moving.  Exercise also improves attention and concentration in young people.

“Focus on the fun,” Harrison said. “With most children, fun is an essential ingredient.” So is the social aspect. “Studies show that the No. 1 reason most adults start and continue an exercise program is the social component,” he said. “Children are alike.”

Organized sports are good for helping teens build social connections and learn perseverance and teamwork. But some programs focus more on winning and less on nurturing skills. If your teen is looking to specialize in a particular sport, a competitive program may be the best fit. But young people who are into organized sports for fun and socialization may prefer a less competitive environment.

And be aware that coaches play a big role in a team’s activity level, said Jennifer Egans, assistant professor in the department of recreation, park and tourism management at Penn State in University Park, Pennsylvania. Some run less active drills, where players may spend a lot of time listening to instructions or waiting in line to take their turn in a basketball shooting drill.

Not all children will enjoy organized sports, especially if they are not competitive. But maybe they enjoy rock climbing, skateboarding or the performing arts. “My entry point was youth circus,” Agnes said, “and trapeze is a growing youth activity today.”

Rock climbing is a great alternative activity for teenagers, especially those who are not into organized sports.

There is also dance, yoga, martial arts, ultimate frisbee, badminton, pickleball and more. Currently trending: virtual reality exercises, what Agnes says will be featured in the future. the study are already showing that it has the potential to have a positive effect on physical activity.

Exercise is not strictly equated with sports. For example, working out burns calories, so assign your kids to the ages that require the most movement. Think about mowing the lawn or vacuuming versus dusting or drying dishes. Gardening is another good option, Harrison said, because gardens include planting, watering, weeding and more.

Chores like mowing the lawn are a good way for teens to break a sweat and burn some calories.

Competitions can also promote activity. Challenge your teen to see who can run the fastest, do the most sit-ups or walk the most steps each day or week. Use small gifts as rewards. And don’t overlook volunteer work, which often involves a lot of movement. Perhaps they can participate in a trail building event or help someone pack and move boxes.

If teens suddenly show no interest in an activity they normally enjoy, sit down to talk. Agnes said that perhaps their lack of interest in swimming is because they are suddenly embarrassed to be seen in a swimsuit. Or maybe they want to quit soccer because a new teammate is making fun of them, or they don’t have any friends on the team this year.

“Such interpersonal barriers can prevent people from doing the activities they love to do,” she said, so don’t assume your teen has suddenly lost motivation to move. There may be something else.

See also for symptoms of Exercise addiction, which involves excessive exercise and is often linked to eating disorders. Symptoms of compulsive exercise include losing too much weight, exercising more after eating too much or missing exercise, and refusing to stop exercising, even when tired, sick, or injured.

As teens are looking for activities they enjoy, be sure to take note All positive As a result of their increased movement, be it stronger muscles, better sleep or higher energy levels. This can help them on days when they lose motivation – something that happens to children and adults alike.

“Kids can learn to be excited to move,” Agnes said. “We need to put them on a path where they have the foundation to enjoy movement as young adults. forced to.”

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